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Thursday Snowstorm Unlikely to Disrupt COVID-19 Vaccine Deliveries


The National Weather Service reports Hazardous travel conditions are likely from late Wednesday night through Friday morning.

It will start as a wintry mix of snow, sleet, and freezing rain before transitioning to heavy snow by midday Thursday. Moderate to heavy snow is likely at times on Thursday afternoon before ending late Thursday night.

Gusty northwest winds may hamper efforts to treat roads on Friday morning, according to NWS.

Those conditions aren’t great for traveling. It could also cause minor delays at airports or prevent delivery trucks from getting out.  

However, it’s unlikely to do much in terms of disrupting COVID-19 vaccine delivery.

Fedex and UPS use both air and ground transport to get vaccine to healthcare providers in the Northwoods.

Both companies declined interviews on the topic but sent me statements.

UPS says it closely monitors every package of COVID-19 vaccines.

“UPS recently opened a new healthcare command center at Worldport, our global air hub in Louisville, Ky. The command center watches every package of COVID-19 vaccines from origin to destination, and can step in with contingency plans should it appear that a package may be delayed,” said a UPS spokesperson in a statement.

Both UPS and Fedex use GPS devices and other technology to track the exact location of the vaccines and their condition.  

“We have a team of 15 meteorologists monitoring conditions 24/7, and about 185 specialists coordinate the movement of millions of shipments on thousands of flights and trucks every day. For vaccine shipments in the U.S., we are using our SenseAware ID monitoring technology and our Priority Alert service to track their movement throughout the FedEx Express network. This, and the strength and flexibility of the FedEx Express air and ground network, allows us to quickly implement contingency plans to help mitigate any potential delays,” said a Fedex spokesperson in a statement.

Since the vaccines require strict temperature conditions, the companies are able to store them safely if looks like they won’t reach their destinations in time.

Local vaccinators WXPR spoke with say a vaccine delivery a day or two late won’t disrupt appointments.

Aspirus, for example, says it schedules appointments for the supply it has. It doesn’t anticipate this storm having any impact on its ability to receive the next shipment.

Katie Thoresen is WXPR's News Director/Vice President.
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