Winter storm delays H1N1 vaccine shipments

Frigid weather has halted the shipment of H1N1 vaccine to Minnesota.

The Health Department says it began delaying shipments on Monday so that vaccine wouldn't arrive during a blizzard. Kris Ehresmann, director of infectious diseases at the Health Department, said H1N1 vaccine is temperature sensitive.

"When you're in a position like we are right now where there's blizzard conditions in parts of the state and the temperature and the wind chill is expected to be at or close to zero or below, then we don't ship vaccine because influenza vaccine can't be frozen," Ehresmann said. "If it is, that eliminates its potency or effectiveness."

Ehresmann estimates that 120,000 doses of H1N1 vaccine have been held back so far.

"When we're in a situation in which the weather is expected to be potentially hazardous to the vaccine, then we don't ship at all because vaccine is expensive and we don't want to waste that resource," she said.

Ehresmann says the vaccine was destined for clinics that serve adults with high-risk health conditions and that the Department hopes to resume shipments by next Monday.

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