Bad weather Outside delays 3,000 Alaska vaccine doses

a person holds a vial of the COVID-19 vaccine
A picture of the COVID-19 vaccine, after the third person in Alaska received it the morning of Dec. 15, 2020, at the Alaska Native Medical Center. (Jeff Chen/Alaska Public Media)

State health officials said Thursday that bad weather sweeping the Lower 48 has delayed 3,000 doses of COVID-19 vaccine destined for Alaska.

The doses were in shipments headed for 21 different providers, and some now have to postpone clinics until the vaccines arrive, Matt Bobo, the state’s immunization program manager, said at a briefing with reporters Thursday.

State officials have been communicating with the White House and CDC about the delays, and Alaskans should be aware that appointments could be postponed until next week, Bobo said.

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“We’re working through the mechanisms and making sure we can reschedule appointments,” he said. “We’re definitely monitoring the situation and making sure that providers are up-to-date.”

Officials stressed the delayed vaccine doses haven’t been wasted and aren’t stranded, say, on an airport tarmac — they just haven’t arrived in Alaska yet. The shipping woes also came at a good time for the state, as they happened during a week when relatively few doses were scheduled to arrive, said Kelsey Pistotnik, another state vaccine official.

“Obviously, we never want this to happen, but this particular timing in the month, it really did hit at a better time for us,” she said.

Nathaniel Herz is an Anchorage-based journalist. He's been a reporter in Alaska for a decade, and is currently reporting for Alaska Public Media. Find more of his work by subscribing to his newsletter, Northern Journal, at Reach him at

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