’Extreme weather’ delays COVID vaccine shipment to Jefferson, Lewis & St. Lawrence counties

’Extreme weather’ delays COVID vaccine shipment to Jefferson, Lewis & St. Lawrence counties
COVID-19 vaccine (Source: MGN / Lisa Ferdinando / DoD / CC BY 2.0)

WATERTOWN, N.Y. (WWNY) - “Extreme weather” has delayed the shipment of hundreds of COVID-19 vaccines to Jefferson, Lewis and St. Lawrence counties.

According to Jefferson County Board of Legislators Chairman Scott Gray, the county received a message from the state Department of Health saying extreme weather-related conditions in Texas and across the Northeast have delayed the shipment or could result in the recall of the vaccines. (See the full message below)

Gray said the county, Samaritan Medical Center, Carthage Area Hospital and the North Country Family Health Center were expecting at least 600 vaccines to be delivered Tuesday.

Those doses had not arrived as of 2:30 p.m., he said.

Gray said this delay could affect the county’s vaccination clinics scheduled for Thursday and Friday at Jefferson Community College.

Another 800 doses of vaccine were scheduled to be delivered to all of the Kinney Drugs locations in the county.

7 News has reached out to Kinney Drugs to see if its shipment is also delayed. A spokesperson said the pharmacy chain was notified about the delay, but has the vaccines needed for scheduled appointments. The clinics scheduled for Saturday and Sunday at JCC in Watertown are still on.

According to Lewis County Public Health Director Ashley Waite, the same Department of Health message was sent to Lewis County.

She said the county is expecting 100 doses of vaccine on Wednesday. The county had no clinics scheduled.

In St. Lawrence County, officials also received word about a delay. The county was expecting 400 doses Tuesday and had not received them.

Officials said no clinics are affected.

The following is the message from the state Department of Health:

This email communication is to inform you that due to extreme weather-related conditions from Texas through the Northeast, COVID-19 vaccine temperature excursions impacting the viability of vaccine are possible. Some providers in New York State (as well as many other States across the Eastern half of the country) may experience: 1) a delay in delivery, 2) recalled shipment that is already in transit, or 3) retrieval of delivered vaccine shipment.

It is extremely important to check monitoring devices for all deliveries to verify there were no temperature excursions. If no excursions, you may keep the box and utilize the vaccine as planned. For vaccines with a temperature excursion, “quarantine” the vaccine in a unit where it can be stored at the correct temperature but NOT USED until you contact and receive the a final decision from the manufacturer regarding viability. You must report the excursion to the NYSDOH Vaccine Program

Due to significant delays and temperature excursions while in transit, Moderna (the manufacturer) has ordered UPS (shipper) to recall many shipments and return to the sender (McKesson – the distributer). In these instances, a replacement shipment is going out ASAP, however deliveries may continue to be impacted by adverse weather throughout the week. Please send an email to McKesson to document your situation (if you did not already) and your request for a replacement shipment to

Continue to check NYSIIS for specific tracking information on your initial and replacement shipments. Continued delays may require cancellation and rescheduling of appointments. Please wait as long as possible before doing so as we remain hopeful that boxes will arrive in time for clinics. However, you should inform individuals with appointments of the possibility that these weather-related delays may impact such appointments. We will keep you posted as we learn more about the impacts of these delays and the planned replacement shipments.

If second dose appointments are impacted, DOH strongly encourages administration of second doses as soon as possible within the window recommended (21 days later for Pfizer and 28 days later for Moderna), so re-scheduling of second dose appointments should be prioritized.

For any first dose vaccine which is unable to be administered within seven days of receipt due to the above circumstances, there will be not be a penalty under New York’s “Use it or Lose it” policy so long as the provider notifies NYS DOH. Remaining doses will not be removed and must be utilized as quickly as possible for first doses and any cancelled appointments should be rescheduled expeditiously.

Thank you for your patience.

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