• The severe weather has also slowed the COVID-19 inoculation drive in the U.S.
  • Biden on Sunday declared a state of emergency exists in Texas
  • Rotating power outages began in Texas on Monday

A major winter storm hit several parts of the U.S. on Monday, bringing snow, freezing rain and power outages. The severe weather also has slowed down the COVID-19 inoculation drive in the country as shipments were delayed and facilities where vaccines are stored lost power.

Health officials in Texas reported a struggle to administer more than 5,000 vaccine doses before they expired when the Harris County Public Health Department building lost power on Monday morning and its backup generator didn’t work.

Officials came up with a plan to "expedite" the allocation of the vaccines to locations with large populations and that didn't require too much driving, Harris County Judge Lena Hidalgo said.

They looked for sites with large numbers of people and medical professionals to administer the shots, Hidalgo added. They were able to distribute 5,410 doses from the affected facility to four designated centers, according to ABC News. Moderna provided guidance on how to save the remaining doses.

Frigid temperatures and icy conditions put nearly 150 million people in the U.S. under winter weather alerts on Monday, with a wind chill warning in place for about 68 million people.

President Joe Biden on Sunday declared that an emergency exists in Texas, which is experiencing one of its coldest winter in decades. Rotating power outages were initiated on Monday by power grid operator Electric Reliability Council of Texas (Ercot).

In San Antonio, all COVID-19 vaccine appointments for Tuesday had to be rescheduled to Saturday, the city said in a news release.

“With the current icy conditions expected to remain until at least tomorrow, we want to ensure the safety of the public. We also want to remind the public who may be concerned about the small delay for their second dose, that we are still within CDC guidelines to ensure the vaccine will still work with no issues,” the city said.

Meanwhile, Corpus Christi-Nueces County Public Health District said it has been notified that it won’t receive its allocated first-dose vaccines on Tuesday because of the severe winter weather.

All three vaccines authorised for use in Europe and the United States are delivered in the form of two doses
All three vaccines authorised for use in Europe and the United States are delivered in the form of two doses AFP / JOEL SAGET