Fewer than half of eligible Delawareans have been vaccinated or signed up for shots

Gov. Carney has said he is concerned that roughly 20% of the eligible population won’t get inoculated. WHYY found the figure is currently above 50%.

A worker organizes vaccine doses during a recent event at Rose Hill Community Center near New Castle. (Cris Barrish/WHYY)

A worker organizes vaccine doses during a recent event at Rose Hill Community Center near New Castle. (Cris Barrish/WHYY)

Lynzy Foraker, a 36-year-old woman from the Wilmington area, didn’t jump at the chance to register for a COVID-19 vaccine when Gov. Carney opened it up Tuesday morning to everyone age 16 and older.

“I didn’t. No,’’ Foraker told a reporter Friday about 8 a.m. as she hurried into a Dunkin Donuts’ for a cup of coffee.

She remains undecided about whether to get inoculated, which medical experts say is almost a guarantee against serious illness or death if someone gets infected with the coronavirus.

That’s because she worried about the safety and side effects of the shots from pharmaceutical giants Moderna, Pfizer and Johnson & Johnson.

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“I just want to wait it out and see if they can make sure everything’s all right,’’ Foraker said. “I don’t know.”

Foraker isn’t alone. As of Friday roughly half of the 800,000 Delawareans age 16 and above have not received a shot or registered to get doses, according to a WHYY News analysis of state vaccination data and population figures.

That’s well above the 20% Gov. Carney said he expects to forego vaccinations, although Delaware Emergency Management Agency director A.J. Schall said he expects more and more people to sign up and accept appointments in the coming weeks.

Carney has signaled his disappointment that residents ages 16 to 49, who were previously unable to register, didn’t do so in higher numbers after the state’s vaccine website opened for them Tuesday morning.

Delaware officials want more people to sign up for vaccination events like this one Tuesday at Dover International Speedway. (Cris Barrish/WHYY)

The governor addressed the issue Tuesday night during a virtual coronavirus town hall. At that point, 22,000 new people had registered that day.

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“That number is actually a little lower than I thought it was going to be,’’ Carney told online viewers that night.

As of Friday, that number has grown to 37,000 — and about 12,500 will get the one-shot Johnson & Johnson vaccine at four events statewide this weekend. An undetermined number also have received limited appointments this week at Walgreens and other pharmacies.

Here’s the bigger picture statewide.

About 807,000 Delawareans are 16 or older. About 320,000 have been partially or fully vaccinated as of Thursday, according to the state’s vaccine tracker. And with another 37,000 registered for state events that brings the total to about 357.000 — excluding the limited number with pharmacy appointments in coming days.

So to date, just 47% of those eligible to get vaccinated are known to have done so or registered.

While some people have said they definitely won’t get the vaccines that have received emergency federal authorization since December, people like Foraker are on the fence and still others are waiting or have been stymied trying to get pharmacy appointments.

Jamie Navalpotro said he tried to sign up for a vaccine at a pharmacy without success but now will try the state’s registration website. (Cris Barrish/WHYY)

One is Jamie Navalpotro. He’s a 25-year-old landscaper who searched a pharmacy website for an appointment but couldn’t get one. A reporter told him how to register on the state’s vaccine site and he pledged to do it.

“It’s something we all need to do. Everyone,’’ Navalpotro said.

Schall agrees that the current numbers aren’t adequate to reach herd immunity and stop widespread transmission. He said those who have gotten or signed up for shots so far are the “low-hanging fruit’’ in the population who wanted one, but acknowledged that efforts to persuade  the reluctant or resistant.

“I wouldn’t say I’m worried,’’ Schall told WHYY. “I think it’s going to be a little bit more of a sales pitch, if that makes sense, and education that we have to do for some groups.”

“I know our partners over in public health continue to try and do outreach, to do community events, explain the effectiveness and the safeness of the vaccine and try to overcome any concerns individuals have.”

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