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Weekly Vaccine Shipment to Massachusetts Partially Delayed

Boxes of COVID-19 vaccine in a refrigeration unit at InterMed Associates in Webster. (Robin Lubbock/WBUR)
Boxes of COVID-19 vaccine in a refrigeration unit at InterMed Associates in Webster. (Robin Lubbock/WBUR)

At least some of the vaccine doses already allotted to Massachusetts this week will not arrive here until Monday, and the state's COVID-19 Command Center is working with providers to determine how the delay might affect appointments that have already been booked.

"The federal government informed the Commonwealth that part of this week’s committed vaccine shipment has been delayed and will not arrive until Monday. Governor Baker reached out directly to federal officials upon learning of the delay to offer any assistance the Commonwealth could provide to avoid this disruption. The Administration is imploring the federal government to do everything in its power to rectify the delay immediately," a spokesperson for the command center said. "The Command Center is working with providers now to assess how this shipment delay may impact appointments that have already been scheduled. All residents should go to their scheduled appointments unless they are contacted by the provider they booked with."

The state is shifting its existing inventory of COVID-19 vaccine doses around, too, in an attempt to fulfill existing appointments until the delayed shipment arrives, the Command Center said. The cause of the delay, an administration official said, was staffing shortages at vaccine manufacturing facilities.

Earlier Thursday, Baker said he and other governors had requested permission to send the National Guard to Kentucky and Tennessee to pick up and bring back the states' next batches of COVID-19 vaccine doses as the southern part of the country deals with unusually cold and wintry weather. It is unclear whether that request was denied, but administration officials said late Thursday afternoon that the National Guard had not been activated.

"We can't afford to go what will be almost a week without getting any new doses from the feds and continue to maintain the appointment schedules that people here expect and anticipate we'll be able to maintain," Baker said Thursday morning.

Massachusetts currently gets a weekly allotment of about 110,000 doses from the federal government, set to rise to 139,000 next week, but it was unclear Thursday how many of this week's doses were delayed.

The administration said there were still "thousands" of vaccine doses in Massachusetts. The Department of Public Health's daily vaccine report Thursday showed that Massachusetts administered 57,648 doses of the vaccine during the most recent 24-hour reporting period. Massachusetts has administered 83% of the doses the federal government has shipped here.

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