While it may not snow much in San Diego County, the snow and severe weather in other parts of the U.S. is impacting the delivery of vaccines to our region, which will cause delays in local vaccinations.
At a weekly news briefing focused on COVID-19 updates, San Diego County Supervisor Nathan Fletcher said the county had received word that several shipments of both the Pfizer and Moderna vaccine scheduled to arrive this week in San Diego County will not be arriving due to inclement weather impacting the country.
“This is going to impact our ability to administer vaccines this week,” Fletcher said. “A second set of delays is going to have a very significant impact on our system.”
Moderna's primary manufacturing facility is in Michigan, while Pfizer’s is in Massachusetts, county officials said.
Fletcher said routes from those facilities to San Diego County were impacted by the severe winter weather.
As a result of the vaccine shipment delays, Fletcher said the county would have to pause vaccinations at some sites.
“We also are very likely to reschedule appointments,” he explained. “We appreciate everyone’s patience. We continue to monitor the situation. We will adjust and, as a county, will continue to do everything we can to get vaccines into arms as rapidly as possible.”
Vaccination Site Shortages: Is My Appointment Affected?
On Thursday, a San Diego County representative announced the vaccination super station at Petco Park was halting appointments on Friday and Saturday. Appointments for Sunday, Monday and Tuesday were also canceled due to availability shortages.
All appointments will be rescheduled via MyChart profiles. The county urges residents who had an appointment those days in East Village to check their emails for more information.
The vaccination site distributes the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine. Other county sites that distribute the Moderna vaccine were also affected by supply issues.
The San Marcos super station was still administering the vaccine on Thursday, though the only doses offered were the Pfizer BioNTech vaccine.
Only about 300 second-dose appointments were honored at the San Marcos site on Thursday. Anyone with a first dose appointment was turned away and told their appointment would be rescheduled for next week.
The Chula Vista and Grossmont super centers, operated by Sharp Healthcare, offered first and second doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine through the weekend, but all first and second dose appointments for the Moderna vaccine were postponed starting Friday. Patients were with rescheduling dates, a spokesperson said.
Anyone with an appointment scheduled Friday through Sunday was contacted by Sharp Healthcare with information on their reschedule date, which will be delayed by about one week, a spokesperson said.
Scripps Health, who runs the Del Mar Super Station, said they rely on the Pfizer vaccine, so their site has not been affected by a shipping delay.
Palomar Medical Center's vaccination clinic were closed on Friday but reopened Saturday to offer doses of the Pfizer vaccine. Anyone whose appointment has been canceled can reschedule through MyTurn.
Smaller county-run "vaccination pods" were also halting all first dose appointments.
Late Wednesday, the San Diego Fire-Rescue Department said it was canceling all of its Thursday appointments at Balboa Municipal Gym due to insufficient supply.
NBC 7 is working to gather information on other vaccination locations that will be impacted.
Vaccines in San Diego County
As of Wednesday, county public health officials said the county had administered 663,000 coronavirus vaccines.
Fletcher said the county is “frustrated” by the delays and understands that the public will feel that same frustration.
He said county public health officials believe the supply-chain issues will “work themselves out in the next week to 10 days.”
“We have a high degree of confidence that in the first week of March, we will be able to move into that first tier of essential workers: teachers, agriculture and law enforcement,” Fletcher added at Wednesday’s briefing. “We think we are getting to a place where we have reached a significant number of seniors, and, as the supply comes in, we believe the first week of March, we will be able to do that.”
Fletcher said on Wednesday that he did not expect the delays to be significant enough to push anybody scheduled for a second dose past the six-week deadline advised by the Centers for Disease Control, since most follow-up shots are scheduled for two to three weeks after the initial shot.
However, the county supervisor did say the delivery delay and subsequent shortage may affect some appointments for first shots.
"[There] will be a tremendous strain on the system to fulfill second-dose appointments, which means, barring some significant change in supply chains, the availability of first-dose appointments for the next week to 10 days will probably be fairly limited," Fletcher said.
Earlier Vaccine Delays in San Diego County
The coronavirus vaccine first arrived in San Diego County in mid-December 2020, but this isn’t the first time that delays have impacted the flow of local vaccinations.
On Feb. 12, the county said an expected shipment of Moderna COVID-19 vaccines never arrived and this would impact the availability of vaccines in the region. The source of that shipment’s delay was unclear.
The shortage prompted the county to close its vaccination super station at Petco Park in the East Village for three days. During that delay, vaccination appointments were postponed and rescheduled as the county prioritized people who were due for their second dose.
The overdue shipment arrived Tuesday and, by Wednesday, the super station in the East Village reopened.