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Vaccine rollout expected to enter next phase by month’s end

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Arrival of Pfizer Vaccine to Public Health Warehouse | PHOTO COURTESY OF DPH

Delaware is three weeks into its statewide vaccination plan, but rollout has been slow and state officials have administered about 35% of received doses by the federal government so far. There are two questions on everyone’s mind: when can I get one and what’s taking so long?

As of Thursday afternoon, the state has used a little more than 18,000 of the 53,650 doses it received, according to the Delaware Division of Public Health’s vaccine tracker. Earlier this week, Delaware Division of Public Health (DPH) Director Dr. Karyl Rattay said the state was still building onto existing infrastructure, and underreported numbers may have been complicating matters.

About 11,000 of those doses are reserved for the required second dose, as both the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines require a second shot 21 and 28 days apart, respectively.

“We know the amount of vaccine we want to get out there [at the speed we want] is different than anything we’ve ever done before,” Rattay said Tuesday. “We do know the vaccination number is higher than what you see, so we’re working with our partners to identify any bottlenecks [in the system].”

What may also be complicating the vaccine distribution is the holiday season, as Rattay added that many in Phase 1a — health care personnel, emergency medical services agencies, and long-term care staff and residents — were reluctant to get it during the holiday season.

But with dentists and veterinarians stepping up to provide the shots, and another 14,000 doses planned to be administered soon, Rattay said immunization will pick up the pace in a short time.

“We are also very confident that the pieces of the infrastructure that have been stood up, and the work that is being done through DPH and our many partners is coming together,” she said.

DPH plans to start Phase 1b, which includes those who are 65 and older and frontline essential workers, by the end of January. No specific date has been set. 

When the time comes, those in Phase 1b will have opportunities to be vaccinated at their primary care offices, pharmacies, clinics and more. DPH is working quickly to identify and help enroll medical offices and pharmacies that are willing to vaccinate older Delawareans when it becomes available, according to DPH officials.

“We will share more information, including possible vaccination sites, through our communications channels as we finalize those details,” read a statement provided by spokeswoman Kathryn Beasley.

The majority of the general public should not expect to get vaccinated before late spring or early summer.

By Katie Tabeling

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