Bad weather Outside delays 3,000 Alaska vaccine doses

A shipment of COVID-19 Pfizer vaccinations lands in Bethel, Alaska and is transferred to a deep freezer at the Yukon-Kuskokwim Health Corporation on Dec. 16, 2020. (Katie Basile/KYUK)

State health officials said Thursday that the bad weather sweeping the Lower 48 has delayed 3,000 doses of COVID-19 vaccine destined for Alaska.

The doses were in shipments headed for 21 different providers, and some are having to postpone clinics until the vaccine can arrive, Matt Bobo, the state’s immunization program manager, said at a briefing with reporters Thursday.

State officials have been communicating with the White House and CDC about the delays, and Alaskans should be aware that appointments could be postponed until next week, Bobo said.

“We’re working through the mechanisms and making sure we can reschedule appointments,” he said. “We’re definitely monitoring the situation and making sure that providers are up-to-date.”

Officials stressed that the delayed vaccine doses haven’t been wasted and aren’t stranded, say, on an airport tarmac — they just haven’t arrived in Alaska yet. The shipping woes also came at a good time for the state, as they happened during a week when relatively few doses were scheduled to arrive, said Kelsey Pistotnik, another state vaccine official.

“Obviously, we never want this to happen, but this particular timing in the month, it really did hit at a better time for us,” she said.

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