Storm delays vaccine shipments


CASPER — Vaccines headed for Wyoming will be delayed as residents emerge from a record-setting winter storm that dumped more than two feet of snow on parts of the state this weekend. 

Federal officials halted shipments of the vaccine into Wyoming until the storm clears, though it remains up in the air when those shipments will arrive, Wyoming Department of Health spokeswoman Kim Deti said via email. 

“They aren’t going to send us shipments when airports may be closed or when roads are closed,” Deti said. “We know our shipments into the state this week from manufacturers/distributors are on hold. We don’t have an exact timetable for when they may arrive as that depends on roads and other travel factors.” 

Hundreds of miles of state and federal highways have been closed amid the storm, including large stretches of Interstates 25, 80 and 90. Portions are beginning to reopen, but slowly. The storm previously shut down the Denver International Airport, which reopened Monday evening. 

Deti said the state will receive the missed doses when the weather clears and when roads are passable.

The state had anticipated nearly 15,000 vaccine doses to be delivered this week between all three approved manufacturers, but no vaccines have been able to make it into the state so far this week, Deti said. 

She added it’s likely the storm will also slow local efforts to get shots out as communities hit hardest by the storm are largely shut down while the snow is cleared. 

What the storm means for individual counties will depend on local health officials. 

The Casper-Natrona County Health Department has been closed the last two days. Spokeswoman Hailey Bloom said it hasn’t caused an issue yet, and that so far, all vaccine appointments for Monday and Tuesday have been rescheduled for later this week. 

In Laramie County, health officials are saving their vaccine doses for second shots as shipments are delayed. That health department has rescheduled all of this week’s first shot appointments for next week and will use the shots they have to complete second doses. 

In Converse County, the storm forced the health department to reschedule a routine vaccination clinic for eligible residents, according to a Facebook post. 

So far, Wyoming has given nearly 117,000 people at least one COVID-19 shot. Almost 74,000 people, or 12 percent of the state’s population, have received two shots. State health officials say they don’t know when a windfall of doses will come, but federal officials have said every U.S. resident who wants a vaccine will be able to get one by the end of May. The previous estimate was the end of July.