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Wintry weather puts freeze on COVID-19 vaccine supply shipped to Florida

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Posted at 3:59 PM, Feb 16, 2021
and last updated 2021-02-16 18:21:27-05

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — Frigid temperatures and wintry weather across a wide swath of the United States are hampering vaccine shipments across the country, including Florida.

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Publix announced they have canceled its Wednesday COVID-19 vaccine appointment window due to a lack of supply. The next scheduled appointments will now be Friday morning at 7 a.m.

"We know how important administering this vaccine is, so we deeply regret the need to cancel Wednesday's scheduling event. Once additional vaccine is received, we will announce the next opportunity for vaccine appointment scheduling," Publix Director of Communications Maria Brous said.

Appointments already made at Publix for vaccinations for Wednesday and Thursday are not affected, according to a Publix spokesperson.

In Palm Beach County, the health department is also experiencing delays. Spokesman Alexander Shaw said a shipment from Pfizer arrived on time Monday, but 4,500 does from Moderna are being delayed.

Martin County officials said vaccine shipments are delayed, impacting about 1,000 scheduled vaccinations.

Kathy Webne of Boynton Beach said she has been trying for weeks to get an appointment at Publix for the vaccine.

Kathy Webne, a senior who lives in Boynton Beach, says she is still trying to book a COVID-19 vaccine appointment.

"I haven't even gotten close," Webne said.

Now, her next chance at it is being delayed.

The winter blast is also impacting vaccine shipments to county health departments and the state, which says 200,000 Moderna doses that were expected Tuesday will now arrive on Thursday.

"The state is still expecting to receive the full allocation of vaccines for Week 10," said Samantha Bequer, press secretary for the Florida Division of Emergency Management.

"This will probably impact the supply chain for one or two days," said Seckin Ozkul, an expert in supply chain economics at the University of South Florida.

Seckin Ozkul believes the delays in vaccine shipments will only last a few days before normal operations will resume.

He said what's straining the vaccine supply lines is any available vaccine is being shipped out immediately, preventing any regional stockpiling that would normally handle a disruption. He also said once the weather breaks, the vaccine should start right up again.

"Because it is inclement weather, there is no damage to the roadways. There's no damage to the actual supply chain or components. It's just going to be affecting daily operations," Ozkul said.

That means more waiting for people like Webne.

"I think it's frustrating just watching everybody all [trying to get the vaccine]" Webne said.