_What_ vaccination stall, readers might ask? It’s been very apparent
here in Minnesota, where appointment availability in participating
pharmacies dried up early last week before the
worst of the storm hit, and have yet to materialize almost a week after
it passed. I’ve mentioned it on Twitter the last few days; the only participating pharmacy still scheduling
vaccinations is mainly-rural ThriftyWhite.
The media, however, has seemed curiously incurious about the lack of
supply. Today the Washington Post finally reports that “logistical”
problems kept pharmacies and states from
getting their planned distributions, and that might continue into next
Major pharmacy chains around the United States are supposed
to be getting direct shipments of vaccine doses — one way
the Biden administration is hoping to speed the immunization
But winter weather, manufacturing delays and logistical
problems have lately hampered the initiative, forcing some
pharmacies to reschedule appointments or scramble to distribute
vaccines they weren’t prepared for.
The administration says “very, very few” vaccine doses were
distributed through the direct-to-pharmacy program last week.
That’s according to a spokeswoman for the Department of Health
and Human Services, who pointed to an announcement by vaccine
maker Moderna that some of its shipments were being delayed
because of some hiccups in the final stages of production.
The hiccups are understandable — to a point. The polar-vortex-ish
weather that descended two weeks ago would have made shipping
unreliable … in some areas of the country, especially
Texas. Manufacturers will experience momentary stoppages at times.
Distribution channels will fumble occasionally, too.
However. A stall of this magnitude and length across the board is
certainly odd, or at least noteworthy. And yet, no major media outlets
seemed at all curious about it, not even when
their own data should have led them to question the situation. For
instance, the Star Tribune’s data on daily vaccinations in Minnesota
show a decline in daily additions to the ranks
of the vaccinated that stretches back a month — even while the state
expanded the program to pharmacy chains:
That decline in the rate of vaccinations began _before_ the storm,
which never seriously impacted the roads in Minnesota, and has
continued after it. It’s not that the demand has
decreased either, but that the availability of appointments has
evaporated. Even today, the only pharmacy chain making appointments at
all is ThriftyWhite, and most of that appears to
be next week and further out, contingent on getting supplies.
It’s tough to look at this data and the lack of media curiosity and
conclude anything other than these outlets have little interest in
reporting on poor performance from the Biden
administration. Joe Biden himself keeps insisting that we didn’t have
vaccines or a plan before he got into office, but at least here in
Minnesota, the delivery rate of vaccinations
was peaking as Biden came into office and seems to be declining ever
since, weather or no. Maybe a media outlet will dig into this a little
more deeply than regurgitating press
releases about “logistical” issues … now that we know the issue exists.
Update: My pal Jim Geraghty wrote about this issue from a different
angle. Vaccines are getting distributed to the states, according to the
data, regardless of weather issues. So why
are vaccination rates declining?
Ugh. Yesterday I noted that the percentage of distributed
vaccinations had declined from 83.9 percent on Monday to 75
percent Thursday, and the number of in-transit or unused doses
increased from about 12.2 million doses Monday to 22.2 million
This morning, the numbers are even worse. The percentage of
administered doses is down to 74 percent, and the number of
in-transit or unused doses is now up to 23.3 million doses.
As the mid February winter storms recede in our collective
rearview mirror, “bad weather” makes less sense as an
explanation for the building backlog. Pfizer and Moderna seem
to have overcome weather-related issues to get the doses
_distributed_ to the states. So why is it so much harder to get
the distributed doses administered?