Vaccine Shipments Delayed by Virginia’s Winter Storm

By Brian Carlton

February 19, 2021

It’s going to be a few days before vaccinations start back up in Virginia

RICHMOND-Thursday’s ice storm didn’t just shut down roads. It also froze Virginia’s vaccination effort. The Virginia Health Department announced Thursday that most of this week’s vaccine shipment would be delayed due to weather. 

Virginia currently gets 130,000 vaccine doses each week. The storm delayed shipments for 106,800 of them, causing vaccination events to be rescheduled across the state. Virginia Health Department officials said in a statement this was “due to distribution channels in the Midwest and elsewhere that are currently shut down.” 

“When the severe weather ends, VDH expects shipments to resume as normal,” the statement continued. 

It’s not just the vaccine doses that got delayed this week. Ancillary supplies also come with each order. Since the Pfizer and Moderna versions require ultra-cold storage, you need things like a dry ice kit. You also need specific syringes and needles that can be used with the vaccine. As of Thursday night, VDH officials said an estimated 2% of Virginia’s providers are reporting delays. 

Even though the roads might be clear by Friday night, that doesn’t guarantee a weekend shipment or that the doses arrive early next week. 

“Even if the roads are clear in Virginia, the fulfillment of orders and the movement of these vaccine and ancillary supplies may be delayed in other parts of the country,” the VDH statement said. 

Let’s say a portion of the ancillary supplies gets created in Texas. And let’s say the power is out at the company’s facility for the next week. At that point, it doesn’t matter what the weather conditions here are. That material isn’t getting shipped. 

Vaccine Events Shut Down

As a result of the delays, health districts across the state shut down all scheduled events for at least 24 hours. In some cases, events throughout the weekend were canceled as well. 

“If vaccination events are postponed due to weather or shipment delays, providers will reschedule these events,” the VDH statement says. 

It also says the health districts will reach out to people on the waiting list to give instructions about updated appointments. 

The delay could be a benefit in some ways, as the state just launched its new pre-registration system. More than 240,000 people used it in the first 24 hours alone. At peak times during that period, an estimated 300 people per minute signed up at

But there was a lot of data that hasn’t been uploaded yet. The weekend before this new system launched, VDH ordered all local districts to shut down their registration programs and send all that data to the state. That included all scheduled vaccination appointments. It will take at least through today before that data is fully processed, so that people can log on and see their scheduled appointment. 

VDH officials will hold a press conference later this afternoon to provide a better timeline of when vaccinations will start back up in Virginia.

Brian Carlton is Dogwood’s managing editor. You can reach him at [email protected].

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