Manufacturing delay, weather holding up vaccine shipment

Baker administration clarifies earlier explanation for delivery lag

COVID-19 VACCINE DOSES scheduled to be shipped to Massachusetts from the federal government this week have been delayed, and state officials left open the possibility that vaccine appointments may be cancelled. 

The Command Center is working with providers now to assess how this shipment delay may impact appointments that have already been scheduled,” a spokesperson for the state’s COVID operation said in a statement on Thursday afternoon 

The center said all residents should go to their scheduled appointments unless they are contacted by the provider they booked with. 

Gov. Charlie Baker suggested earlier on Thursday that the National Guard may be deployed to southern states to pick up vaccine doses, which had been delayed by the weather in getting shipped out. But Thursday afternoon, his COVID-19 command center said the Guard is in fact not being deployed. 

According to the command center, the doses Baker was referring to were vaccine shipments that the federal government had promised would arrive this week. Health care providers had booked appointments for seven days, based on the amount they were promised by the federal government. 

On Wednesday night, the federal government told Massachusetts officials that a shipment would not arrive until Monday due to weather conditions. The federal government has now clarified that the cause of the delay is, in fact, staffing shortages at vaccine manufacturing facilities.  It is unclear from the state’s explanation whether the staffing delays were due to weather or were a separate problem.

Gov. 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 state spokesperson said. “The administration is imploring the federal government to do everything in its power to rectify the delay immediately.” 

For now, there are still thousands of unused doses in Massachusetts. “The administration is doing everything possible to shift inventory between sites to help providers fulfill existing appointments until the shipment arrives,” the spokesperson said. 

Meet the Author

Shira Schoenberg

Reporter, CommonWealth

About Shira Schoenberg

Shira Schoenberg is a reporter at CommonWealth magazine. Shira previously worked for more than seven years at the Springfield Republican/MassLive.com where she covered state politics and elections, covering topics as diverse as the launch of the legal marijuana industry, problems with the state's foster care system and the elections of U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren and Gov. Charlie Baker. Shira won the Massachusetts Bar Association's 2018 award for Excellence in Legal Journalism and has had several stories win awards from the New England Newspaper and Press Association. Shira covered the 2012 New Hampshire presidential primary for the Boston Globe. Before that, she worked for the Concord (N.H.) Monitor, where she wrote about state government, City Hall and Barack Obama's 2008 New Hampshire primary campaign. Shira holds a master's degree from Columbia University's Graduate School of Journalism.

About Shira Schoenberg

Shira Schoenberg is a reporter at CommonWealth magazine. Shira previously worked for more than seven years at the Springfield Republican/MassLive.com where she covered state politics and elections, covering topics as diverse as the launch of the legal marijuana industry, problems with the state's foster care system and the elections of U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren and Gov. Charlie Baker. Shira won the Massachusetts Bar Association's 2018 award for Excellence in Legal Journalism and has had several stories win awards from the New England Newspaper and Press Association. Shira covered the 2012 New Hampshire presidential primary for the Boston Globe. Before that, she worked for the Concord (N.H.) Monitor, where she wrote about state government, City Hall and Barack Obama's 2008 New Hampshire primary campaign. Shira holds a master's degree from Columbia University's Graduate School of Journalism.

This is the latest snafu in a rollout that has been plagued with problems, including the crashing of the state’s website Thursday morning as 1 million people became newly eligible for the shots.