Dr. Anthony S. Fauci expressed optimism on Sunday that vaccination sites around the country would quickly recover from delays in coronavirus vaccine inoculations caused by weather-related shipping delays last week, and administer all six million missed doses while still ramping up the number of new appointments.
“We can play pretty good catch-up,” Dr. Fauci, President Biden’s chief medical adviser for Covid-19, said on the NBC show “Meet the Press,” noting that two million of the delayed doses had already been shipped. “When you just, you know, put the foot to the accelerator and really push, we’ll get it up to where we need to be by the middle of the week.”
The rate of vaccinations in the United States, which had been accelerating after a chaotic start, fell last week after a winter storm blew through much of the country. About 1.52 million vaccine doses were being administered per day, according to a New York Times database. Although that is still above President Biden’s target, it was the lowest rate since Feb. 8.
The country has been racing to vaccinate as many people as possible before more contagious and possibly deadlier variants of the coronavirus become dominant, and the figure had been well above the president’s goal of 1.5 million doses for several days. It peaked at 1.7 million on Feb. 16 before a brutal winter storm hit states from coast to coast. The bad weather delayed shipments of vaccine supplies from two hubs: a FedEx center in Memphis and a UPS site in Louisville, Ky.
More than 2,000 vaccine sites were in areas with power outages, according to the Federal Emergency Management Agency. Many were not only forced to close but left relying on generators to keep doses at the ultracold temperatures they require to prevent them from spoiling.
Texas, where the frigid storm left millions without power and water for a time, has reopened inoculation sites. The state has been assigned almost 600,000 first doses of the vaccine for the coming week, according to the state health department, up from about 400,000 first doses for the week of Feb. 15.
The doses that were supposed to be delivered last week are still waiting to be shipped to Texas from out-of-state warehouses, state health officials said. The missed doses are expected to be delivered in the first half of this week.
On Sunday, Houston’s mayor, Sylvester Turner, said on “Face the Nation” on CBS that vaccinations had resumed there and that a FEMA site would open Monday with the potential to administer shots to 6,000 people a day for the next six to eight weeks. He estimated the city could vaccinate more than 100,000 people in the coming week. “The people are resilient,” he said. “I’m very proud of the people in the city of Houston, how they have come together.”
In Dallas, a major vaccination hub at Fair Park reopened Sunday, but sites in Austin remain closed. The mayor of neighboring Fort Worth, Betsy Price, also appeared on “Face the Nation,” and said that vaccinations would resume in her city on Monday or Tuesday.
Last week’s bottlenecks and delays came just as states have broadened vaccine access to more groups, despite a limited supply that is not growing enough to keep up.
New York City said on Saturday that it had fewer than 1,000 first Covid-19 doses on hand because of the weather-related shipment delays. Mayor Bill de Blasio said that New York City had delayed scheduling up to 35,000 first dose appointments because of the shortage.
At the same time, New York State is still scheduling appointments for new mass vaccination sites opening in Brooklyn and Queens on Wednesday in partnership with FEMA.
The new sites, at Medgar Evers College in Brooklyn and York College in Queens, are open to residents of only select ZIP codes and are intended to increase low vaccination rates in communities…