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Northeast blizzard complicates Covid-19 vaccination efforts

Public health agencies were struggling to get shots into arms on Monday as snow blanketed roads and parking lots.
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A powerful snowstorm blanketed much of the Northeast on Monday, severely hampering public health efforts to get vaccinations into arms between Pennsylvania and New England.

Mass vaccinations at MetLife Stadium in New Jersey, home of pro football's Giants and Jets, were canceled, while New York City-run testing and vaccine sites were also closed for the day.

In Pennsylvania, state-run testing centers in Armstrong, Cumberland, Jefferson, Monroe and Wayne Counties were also shuttered due to snowfall. Vaccinations scheduled for Monday and Tuesday at the Allentown Fairgrounds were postponed until Wednesday and Thursday, respectively.

"Folks stay off the roads, it's dangerous. Job 1 right now is to protect people's lives by dealing with the snow first," New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio told MSNBC on Monday morning, predicting up to 22 inches of snow could fall on America's largest metro area.

'We really want to get back to vaccinations tomorrow morning, God willing."

Meanwhile, in New England, doctors and nurses stationed at Fenway Park and Gillette Stadium, where baseball's Red Sox and football's Patriots play, trudged forward with vaccination efforts on Monday despite forecasts of 10 inches of snow for Boston.

"This is New England, we know the weather sometimes makes things harder, but we find a way," according to a statement by CIC Health, which runs both the Gillette Stadium and Fenway Park mass vaccination sites.

About 500 people in Boston were expected to be injected in the shadow of Fenway's Green Monster on Monday, with hopes of ramping that up to 1,200 daily after the snow stops and is cleared.

"So we think that we could do more, clearly, as the weather improves," CIC Chief Marketing & Experience Officer Rodrigo Martinez told NBC News, as patients rolled up their sleeves and healthcare professionals — seated in front of Samuel Adams taps — drew vaccines from vials into syringes.

Jacquie Van Haelst, 85, had been set to get her vaccination on Tuesday at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, about 28 miles south of Boston, but feared the continuing snow storm would ruin those plans.

So when she learned from her niece that spots had opened up at Fenway on Monday, Van Haelst jumped out of the shower and raced for Lansdowne Street.

“I can't tell you how excited I am,” she said after taking her Pfizer shot. “I'm thrilled. And so I'm ready to go home and and hit some tennis balls.”

But a mass vaccination center at the Reggie Lewis Center, a basketball and track and field venue in the Roxbury neighborhood of Boston, was closed with all appointments set for Monday postponed until Feb. 8, city officials said.