Del. enters next phase of vaccinations, officials warn it could be ‘months’ before all eligible are inoculated

ChristianaCare employee Kathleen Bonis gets the COVID vaccine in December 2020. (State of Delaware)

ChristianaCare employee Kathleen Bonis gets the COVID vaccine in December 2020. (State of Delaware)

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Delaware will start offering coronavirus vaccinations to older adults on Friday. However, because there aren’t enough doses to inoculate everyone eligible, people must register online to get an appointment, officials announced Tuesday.

People ages 65 and up are part of Phase 1B of Delaware’s rollout, which also includes frontline essential workers such as fire, police, correctional officers, teachers and education staff, child care providers, postal workers, food manufacturing, agriculture, transportation, and grocery store workers.

Efforts are still underway to vaccinate those in Phase 1A — health care workers and nursing home residents and staff — who have not yet been vaccinated.

To date, the state has given out 46,141 doses of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines, but each recipient must get two doses.

But with limited doses available under the distribution plan overseen by the federal government, “officials strongly caution that it could take weeks or months for all 200,000 Phase 1B-eligible individuals to be vaccinated,’’ Gov. John Carney’s office said Tuesday, hours after he took a virtual oath of office for his second four-year term.

For older adults, registration and requests for appointments begin Wednesday for mass vaccination events and other options to get the shots.

Five of the appointment-only events for people over 65 will be held from Friday through Sunday. Others in Phase 1A can also get vaccinated there.

The Delaware City Division of Motor Vehicles will have vaccination events Friday, Saturday and Sunday. The Georgetown DMV will have events Saturday and Sunday. Anyone who shows up without an appointment should not expect to be vaccinated, Carney’s office said.

Residents age 65 and up can register at de.gov/covidvaccine starting at 8:30 a.m. on Wednesday.

To help explain the rollout and the current situation with COVID-19, Gov. Carney and public health director Dr. Karyl Rattay will hold a virtual community meeting Tuesday night at 7 p.m. Residents can submit questions to townhall@delaware.gov. The session will be streamed on Facebook and via livestream.

Despite the dearth of doses, Carney said his administration’s “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.”

Rattay said she “must ask for patience, as everyone in this group simply cannot be vaccinated in a matter of days. With limited resources, there will be some attention within Phase 1B based on the risk factors we know, and the focus will be – especially in the first large vaccination events – on those 65 and over.”

“We are looking forward to growing our vaccine options in the coming weeks to give people statewide multiple options for COVID-19 vaccination, as they now have for COVID-19 testing or flu shots.”

The state also announced plans and guidance for people in the other Phase 1B categories.

  • The state Department of Education will be announcing options specifically for K-12  educators and school staff. The department is partnering with Acme/Safeway pharmacies to 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 next week.
  • The Office of Child Care Licensing will announce its plan next week.
  • Correctional officers performing 1A functions have been offered vaccinations as have some prisoners age 65 and up who have serious medical conditions. Prison officials will continue receiving vaccines as supply allows and inoculate prisoners and officers in order based on age and health condition.
  • Public health officials and the Division of Small Business will release information in the coming days that will assist employers who want to host their own vaccination events for their employees or who want to help their employees learn where to get vaccinated. Questions from frontline employers about the process can be directed to Covid19faq@delaware.gov.

A list of pharmacies taking appointments to give vaccines will be available at de.gov/covidvaccine next week. The list will grow as additional pharmacies receive doses. Pharmacies are expected to be a primary choice for vaccinations as more doses become available. Pharmacies have been asked to limit their efforts in their stores at this time to Phase 1A and people age 65 and up.

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 at de.gov/covidvaccine.

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