Extreme Weather May Delay Reaching Herd Immunity, Experts Warn

Every day that vaccination clinics are closed could extend the length of the pandemic, even slightly, though some clinics plan to offer extended hours

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The extreme winter weather covering much of the U.S. is causing enough disruption to vaccinations that the country may take slightly longer to reach herd immunity against COVID-19, potentially extending the length of the pandemic, experts who are following the vaccination rollout said. 

The full extent of the disruption isn’t yet known, but the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warned late Tuesday that there were likely to be “widespread delays” in vaccine shipments and deliveries over the next few days. The announcement came after states and local municipalities had already canceled many appointments, NBC News reported

The vaccination disruptions are widespread in part because weather has affected major shipping hubs. According to the CDC, shipments have been delayed out of a FedEx facility in Memphis, Tennessee, and a UPS facility in Louisville, Kentucky. They are vaccine shipping hubs for multiple states, the agency said.

Health workers may be able to make up at least some ground once temperatures warm up and electricity is restored to millions of people without power in Texas. In Marion County, Alabama, the health department said on Facebook that it was planning extended clinic hours Thursday and Friday “and into next week as needed” to accommodate people whose vaccine appointments were originally scheduled for early this week. 

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