Though Wyoming has escaped the worst of the winter weather that has rocked the rest of the country, snowstorms have delayed some shipments of the COVID-19 vaccines.
The Wyoming Department of Health reported Thursday afternoon that this week's disbursements of the Moderna vaccine are not likely to show up on time. The delay is temporary, but the 5,700 first doses and 3,700 second doses that were expected to come will not.
It's not yet clear how this will affect later shipments.
“At this point, we are awaiting updates from our federal partners about next week’s shipments,” said Angie Van Houten, community health section chief at the Health Department.
The delays also affect shipments that were headed to Walmart pharmacies as part of a federal program and are not included in the count Wyoming expected. The Health Department did not provide county-level information, but Van Houten said it was likely to impact many areas around the state.
Teton County was slated to receive just 100 doses of the Moderna vaccine this week and 500 next week, so the initial delay may not have much of an effect. However, should the shipments for next week also be late, it could slow down the vaccinations of people over 65, educators and school staff, and other essential workers that are taking place right now.
Patients who have received one dose and whose second dose will be delayed do not need to start the inoculation process over again, the Health Department said in its press release. Though Moderna said the second dose should be given 28 days after the first, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website said there is no maximum interval between the two.
Vaccine distribution has made marked improvement in recent weeks, with roughly 93,000 Wyomingites having received their first doses. After a slow start, counties have efficiently administered their allotments, with 91% of first doses sent to localities having been administered as of Thursday, along with 74% of second doses. That data may be up to 72 hours behind the true number.
Dealing with snowstorms is not exactly what state officials had in mind as they ramped up the vaccination program.
“While availability of vaccine compared to current demand has been an ongoing issue, it’s frustrating to face this issue right now,” Van Houten said. “We have to ask people to stay tuned for state and local updates.”