Extreme Winter Weather Exacerbated by Climate Crisis Threatens to Hamper COVID Vaccination Efforts

Washington, D.C. – A deadly winter storm fueled by climate change has left 23 individuals in five states dead and 3.4 million without power as of Wednesday afternoon – making Uri one of the worst extreme winter weather events in our country’s history.

Uri is also hindering COVID-19 vaccination efforts across the country as potentially deadlier variants of the virus continue to spread into new communities. In half a dozen states, power outages threaten to spoil vaccine doses, distribution has been severely delayed by interruptions to the postal service, and many vaccination sites have closed as wintery conditions shut down roads.

“Experts have warned for years that our energy grid is failing, and added pressures from the climate crisis are further exacerbating the problems. But climate deniers and opponents to climate action ignored warnings and blocked necessary infrastructure investments, and now, individuals across the country will face further threats from COVID,” said Lori Lodes, Climate Power’s executive director. “This storm and its devastating consequences make it clear that we need bold investment in infrastructure immediately or we will continue to see this deadly scenario play out again and again as the climate crisis worsens.”

The increased COVID dangers directly caused by Uri underscore why climate change — and the urgent need to boldly address this crisis – impacts all aspects of our lives, and without major investments to build a clean energy economy and rebuild our infrastructure, these extreme weather events will become more dangerous and deadlier.

Winter Storm Uri knocked out power in much of Texas after natural gas, coal, and nuclear generators failed. These power outages threaten the existing supply of coronavirus vaccines, which must be kept at very particular temperatures.

Additional threats to COVID vaccine distribution include:

Even after this extreme weather passes, there will be lasting effects that will hinder vaccine distribution in Texas and around the country:

As the climate crisis worsens, modernizing our infrastructure to withstand extreme weather caused by climate change must be a top priority.