Some providers in Washington state are slated to receive twice as much vaccine this week, after ice and snow delayed last week’s shipments across the nation.
For some hospitals, “there is essentially going to be a double delivery,” said Cassie Sauer, of the Washington State Hospital Association (WSHA), adding that many facilities had already received delivery confirmations.
Sauer said hospitals were not scheduled for a large proportion of the overall state allocation for first doses this week or last and should be able to manage the influx.
“We’re confident, on the hospital side, we’re going to be able to work through our doses quite quickly,” Sauer said.
Darin Goss, chief executive for Providence Health and Services Southwest, said about 7,000 of the health organizations’ patients had to be rescheduled last week due to shipping delays. The organization serves Lewis and Thurston counties.
“Not a crowd pleaser,” Goss said during a news briefing hosted by WSHA on Monday. Those appointments will be rescheduled for this week, Goss said.
The organization has received a shipment from Pfizer this week and a shipment from Moderna already has been confirmed, Goss said.
Shipping delays closed the four state-operated mass vaccination sites over the weekend, with most slated to open early this week, contingent on supply. Washington health officials told vaccine providers on Friday that it expected shipping backlogs to be resolved by this Wednesday. Some 6 million doses were delayed nationwide, according to a state update to providers.
Vaccine providers across King County were slated to receive about 160,000 doses of vaccine this week, according to Gabriel Spitzer, a spokesperson for Public Health -Seattle & King County. That figure is roughly double what would have been expected for this week’s allocation had delays not postponed shipments intended for last week.
Public Health is operating two mass-vaccination sites, one in Kent and one in Auburn. Spitzer said those sites have the capacity to vaccinate this week’s appointments in addition to those rescheduled from last week.
Many vaccine providers across the state are focused on providing second doses this week. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has said people should try to get their second dose as close to the recommended interval as possible, but that a six-week interval is acceptable for both the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines.
Also new this week: Shipments of Pfizer vaccine trays will be represented as 1,170 doses rather than 975 in Washington state, according to Sauer.
Just days into the vaccine rollout, pharmacists recognized they could draw a sixth or seventh dose from vials of Pfizer’s vaccine. The amount of vaccine able to be drawn depended on the types of needles and syringes used and the volume of dead space in those systems.
The revelation shifted public attention earlier this winter toward production and distribution of syringes with low dead space. Pfizer also lobbied for federal regulators to count the extra doses as part of its supply commitment to the U.S. government.
Trays of Pfizer vaccine contain 195 vials, and this week each vial will be assumed to contain six doses, rather than five, Sauer said.
The CDC updated its ordering system last week prompting the policy change, said Franji Mayes, a Washington State Department of Health spokesperson. Supply kits now contain needles and syringes that can obtain six doses.
Previously reported state data on vaccine distribution, which listed shipments as 975 doses, will not be adjusted to reflect the extra doses that could have been available, Mayes wrote in an email. Going forward, the state will expect vaccine providers to use six doses from each vial and the metrics will reflect that.
Material from Seattle Times archives and national wire reports are included in this report.