The storm is expected to hit most of the east coast Wednesday through Thursday, and several feet of snow and heavy ice could cause power outages throughout the region.
Boston and New York could see up to 12 inches of snow, while parts of the border triangle could see up to 15 inches.
The storm system will move out of the Rockies through Tuesday, bringing snow to the southern plains before meeting the cooler air further east.
There will be freezing rain down Interstate 80 and in the mountains of Virginia, with ice build-up of more than a quarter inch possible in Roanoke, Charlottesville, west of Beckley, West Virginia.
Lighter snow accumulations from Indiana to New Hampshire are expected Wednesday, the center said.
Stormy wind conditions will also be a concern with some areas, especially along the coast, getting close to snow storms. Sustained winds of 25 to 35 mph are possible, sometimes as high as 45 mph.
Shippers have contingency plans for the distribution of vaccines
The weather can make travel very difficult or even impossible in some areas, the National Weather Service said.
The winter snowstorm will hit parts of the Mid-Atlantic Ocean in New England starting Wednesday, when shippers are expected to make 66 deliveries nationwide. Later in the week, other vaccines will be shipped in Pfizer’s distribution boxes that require dry ice.
FedEx does not expect a “significant impact” on the service, company spokeswoman Shannon Davis wrote in an email Monday, adding that they will continue to monitor the forecast.
“We have a team of 15 meteorologists who monitor conditions 24/7, and we have contingency plans in case we see severe weather,” she said.
UPS, which has an internal team monitoring the weather, did not immediately respond to CNN’s request for comment.
Gene. Gustave Perna of Operation Warp Speed told reporters on Monday that his group has plans for many different problems, the worst case being an accident involving a van or airplane. Bad weather falls in the middle of the problem spectrum, he said.
Some doses are kept in a “safety stock” if there is a problem.
CNN’s Steve Almasy, Judson Jones, Melissa Nord and Taylor Ward contributed to this report.