Vaccine doses for Topeka veterans, possibly others delayed by weather behind blackouts


An ampoule Moderna vaccine against the COVID-19 disease, stand on the table at the Diakonie Hospital “DIAKO” vaccination ward in Bremen, Germany, Friday, Jan. 15, 2021. Besides the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine, Moderna is the second corona vaccine approved in the European Union. (Mohssen Assanimoghaddam/dpa via AP)

TOPEKA, Kan. (KSNT) – Some Topeka veterans won’t get COVID-19 vaccines yet, and other groups may not either as extreme cold weather stopped a Thursday shipment of a week’s worth of doses to Kansas.

The Kansas Department of Health and Environment confirmed the shipment delay.

“We received notice today that this week’s shipments did not ship today due to weather. We are awaiting further details on when it will ship and if there will be any impacts to future shipments.”

Kansas Department of Health and Environment

Because the KDHE didn’t get a new shipment of vaccines, local providers including Stormont Vail Health, St. Francis Hospital and the Topeka VA saw a domino effect. The supply chain runs through Chicago but hasn’t made it to the midwestern city yet, according to the Topeka VA. The veterans’ hospital was expecting some 400 Moderna vaccines and now had to reschedule appointments for veterans who were supposed to get their first dose.

The delay also came in Stormont Vail’s first week of vaccinating Shawnee County K-12 education staff. It said it has enough doses to complete its current scheduled appointments but is banking on the shipment for more people to get the initial shot.

“At this time Stormont Vail has supply to provide second doses that are scheduled. We have yet to receive a vaccine allocation this week and are hopeful it will arrive soon. We hope to be able to continue second dose appointments as well as resume providing first doses to community members in Phase 2 within the coming week.”

Robert Kenagy, Stormont Vail President and CEO

St. Francis thinks it will get the shipment in time to honor appointments for both seniors and education staff.

“So far, we have not had to cancel any scheduled appointments,” said Nancy Burkhardt, Director of Marketing for St. Francis and the University of Kansas Health System. “We are hopeful that the vaccine shipment will arrive in time for us to continue keeping appointments as scheduled.”

The state’s health department and the three vaccine dose administrators cited weather that caused around 270,000 Kansans to lose electricity in rotating controlled outages as the reason behind the shipment delay. Kansas is now out of an energy emergency from local power company Evergy’s supervising agency, but states like Texas are reeling from the after-effects of the cold and blackouts.

The KDHE said it is waiting for further details on the delayed vaccine shipment, including when it will move down the supply chain to Kansas and if this delay will impact future shipments.

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