Most of the vaccine shipments scheduled to arrive in New York this week have been delayed due to winter storms sweeping across the country, and New York City’s supply is quickly running out.

“Every dose that should have shipped on Monday was held back, and only a limited number of Pfizer vaccines left shipping facilities on Tuesday and Wednesday,” Governor Andrew Cuomo said in a statement Thursday. As of Friday, only 40% of this week’s expected delivery had arrived, according to the state’s vaccine tracker. That’s just days after the state expanded eligibility to millions of people with pre-existing conditions.

Cuomo went on to say that the state Department of Health is working with local governments and health care providers “to minimize the impact on their operations and reduce the number of appointments that must be rescheduled.” Friday afternoon, Governor Cuomo released a detailed update on the interruption of supply.

"We have now been informed that shipments of the Pfizer vaccine that should have been delivered already but were delayed due to weather are scheduled to arrive by Monday, and orders placed within the last 48 hours will be sent after, with expected arrival on Tuesday and Wednesday,” he stated. “Delayed shipments of the Moderna vaccine should arrive by the middle of next week, with orders placed within the last 48 hours expected to arrive next Thursday and Friday.”

Vaccine dosage allocated to New York State on February 19, 2021

Vaccine dosage allocated to New York State on February 19, 2021

Vaccine dosage allocated to New York State on February 19, 2021
New York State Department of Health

As many as 35,000 new vaccine appointments that would have been posted for New York City residents are being kept offline until more supplies arrive, Mayor Bill de Blasio said earlier this week. Despite this shortfall, the city launched a vaccine hub on Staten Island on Friday but delayed opening a new site at Queens’ Martin Van Buren High School until Sunday.

On Friday’s Brian Lehrer Show, the mayor said it would be easier to address the problem if the city had more flexibility in how it could use its vaccine supply, calling out state and federal regulators for imposing too many restrictions.

As of Friday morning, the city had 6,132 doses on hand for first shots of the vaccine and was reserving 132,268 doses for people who need to get their second shots.

Second-dose reserves must be saved for 42 days per state and federal policy before they can be repurposed as first doses. The policy is meant to ensure that everyone who gets a first dose of the vaccine is prioritized for their second dose. Mayor de Blasio wants these rules to be relaxed.

“The state government has to stop interfering in so many of the day-to-day details of how we do vaccinations,” de Blasio said. “We still have tens of thousands of doses we can’t use every day because of state and federal rules keeping us from vaccinating people.”

He said since the city knows that new shipments will arrive soon, it should use the supply it has on hand now wherever it is most needed. Gothamist reached out to the state Health Department and governor’s office for comment.

A spokesman for the city Health Department said he was not aware of any city-run vaccination sites having to cancel or reschedule appointments, unlike some counties in other parts of the state. But he added, “I can’t speak for every provider, so it may be affecting different providers in different ways.”

The state has advised health care providers in New York not to schedule appointments until they are sure they will have enough vaccine supply on hand. But not everyone has been following that rule, as demonstrated by the mass cancellations at the Mount Sinai Health System earlier this week.

Neither the city nor state has released data on how many second appointments are skipped, potentially freeing up more doses. Asked whether there might be more no-shows this week because of the snow, a city Health Department spokesman said any information on that would be anecdotal.

Editor’s note: This story was updated with a statement from the governor’s office.