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Delaware to start Phase 1B vaccination of 65 and older

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Delaware’s COVID-19 vaccination plan is moving into Phase 1B immediately, focusing first on those 65 years old and older, state health officials announced Tuesday.

More than 200,000 Delawareans qualify for vaccination in this phase, and multiple options for residents to be vaccinated will begin this week and then expand in coming weeks, including large vaccination events with a new appointment request system.

Phase 1B includes all individuals 65 and older, and frontline essential workers including fire, police, correctional officers, teachers and education staff (including child care providers), U.S. postal workers, food manufacturing, agriculture, transportation, and grocery store workers.

DPH, in partnership with the Delaware Medical Reserve Corp., Bayhealth, Kent County EMS, and the Delaware National Guard, vaccinates people in Phase 1A on Jan. 16 at the Dover DMV. Events like this are expected to continue as the state rolls out its vaccination plan | PHOTO COURTESY DPH

Delaware does not have enough vaccine doses to vaccinate everyone in Phase 1B, as the state has received 77,600 doses and administered about 46,141 shots as of Tuesday. That leaves about 31,459 vaccine doses left.

With limited vaccination doses available from the federal government, officials strongly caution that it could take weeks or months for all 200,000 Phase 1B eligible individuals to be vaccinated. 

Delaware Division of Public Health Director (DPH) Dr. Karyl Rattay acknowledged the limited resources and stressed the focus would be on those 65 and older, especially in the first large vaccination events.

“We are excited to be able to move into this next phase of vaccinating Delawareans but must ask for patience as everyone in this group simply cannot be vaccinated in a matter of days,” Rattay said in a prepared statement on Tuesday.

DPH, county EMS agencies, the Delaware Medical Reserve Corps, and hospital partners have scheduled five drive-thru vaccination events for people 65 and older and those in Phase 1A personnel on Jan. 22 at the Delaware City Division of Motor Vehicles, and Jan 23 and 24 at both the Delaware City and Georgetown DMV locations.

The registration system currently for Delawareans ages 65 and older will have the following steps: 

  1. An individual will request an appointment at de.gov/covidvaccine which will put them on a waiting list and 
  2. When appointments become available, invitation emails will be sent to individuals to schedule an appointment online for an upcoming event. 

These invitations, based on age, medical condition and other risk factors, will be unique and cannot be shared. Seniors with computer access are advised to request an appointment through this online system. For seniors without computer access only, a phone line will be announced Wednesday to take requests for an appointment and, as slots become available, to help complete the appointment process.

DPH expects more requests for vaccination event appointments than doses and slots available for the first weekend and the foreseeable future.

Delawareans age 65 and older who request an appointment but do not immediately receive an invitation email will continue to be on the waiting list to receive an invitation for future vaccination events. Multiple requests will not increase the chance of receiving an invitation for an appointment.

Any individuals who arrive without an appointment for this weekend’s events should not expect to be vaccinated. 

In the next few weeks, additional large-scale vaccination venues are expected to be brought online to vaccinate Phase 1B individuals and future phase groups. As the state progresses through and past Phase 1B, the appointment system will be used for individuals in future phases.

DPH’s announcement comes after a weekend of mostly-unadvertised drive-thru vaccination clinics at the Dover DMV in the state as well as one indoor event at Salesianum School in Wilmington, as reported by WDEL. An estimated 9,770 shots were administered during the weekend “trial run,” although the events quickly drew long lines.

“We are committed to protecting the most vulnerable Delawareans from COVID-19,” Gov. John Carney said in a statement. “Our goal is to get as many Delawareans vaccinated as quickly and safely as possible. That’s how we’ll beat this virus, get back to normal, and rebuild. The reality is that will take some time and some patience, so in the meantime, let’s do what works. Wear a mask. Wash your hands. Avoid gatherings. Stay vigilant.”

Vaccination options

The state and DPH have also organized the following vaccination options for essential workers included in 1B.

This week, the Delaware Department of Education will be announcing vaccination options specifically for educators and school staff. Acme and Safeway pharmacies will host vaccination events for educators at multiple school sites throughout the state, and to allow educators to be vaccinated at Acme/Safeway pharmacy locations. These options will become available the week of Jan. 25. 

Child care workers will see vaccination options similar to Delaware teachers and school staff the same week.

For other eligible frontline essential workers, a partnership between DPH and the Division of Small Business is underway to streamline the information. The Division of Small Business will release information in the coming days for employers who want to host their own vaccination events for their employees or who want to help their employees learn where to get vaccinated. In the meantime, questions from frontline employers about the vaccination process can be directed to the Division of Small Business at Covid19faq@delaware.gov.

A list of pharmacies taking COVID-19 vaccine appointments will be available at de.gov/covidvaccine starting the week of Jan. 25. The list will grow as additional pharmacies receive doses. 

Pharmacies are expected to be a primary choice for vaccinations as more vaccines become available, but as with other methods, they will have limited doses in the early part of the effort. Pharmacies are asked to limit their efforts in their stores at this time to Phase 1A and Phase 1B individuals 65 and over.

Vaccines will be available to those 65 and over from some primary care and specialty care providers, such as medical practices, urgent care sites, and for patients of Federally Qualified Health Centers. Some providers will contact their own patients to offer vaccination appointments, and others may invite the public to request appointments. Medical providers who wish to vaccinate individuals must enroll in the state’s immunization system through a separate process. Information and instructions can be found on the Medical Provider page of de.gov/covidvaccine.

If someone has received a flu, shingles or other vaccination recently, they cannot receive a COVID-19 vaccination within 14 days of the prior vaccination.

By Katie Tabeling

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