When can you get the COVID-19 vaccine in Delaware? What you need to know
Three weeks into its vaccine rollout, Delaware has administered less than a third of the doses it has received, in line with the slow start to the distribution process experienced across the country.
Here is what we know about who will be able to receive the vaccine next and when and where the general public will have the opportunity to be vaccinated.
How are Delaware's vaccine distribution efforts going? How many doses have been administered?
Through Sunday, Delaware has administered 14,265 doses, 31.8% of the 44,925 doses it has received from the federal government.
Delaware is in line with the national average of 29.6% of vaccines distributed, as reported by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The state has received a near even split of Pfizer and Moderna vaccines, which require different storing conditions and lag times between doses. Both vaccines require two doses.
More than 8,500 Pfizer doses received last week are slated to be used this week for second doses for health care workers who received the state's first vaccines in mid-December.
The doses administered so far cover less than 2% of Delaware's population. The state has administered 20 doses or fewer every Sunday since the first vaccines arrived on Dec. 14, according to the state's vaccine tracker. No one was vaccinated on Christmas Day, and 28 people were vaccinated on New Year's Day.
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Who is currently getting vaccinated?
The state is vaccinating health care personnel, emergency medical services personnel and staff and residents of long-term care facilities. This group represents "Phase 1A" of Delaware's vaccine rollout.
The state estimates there are around 70,000 health care workers and long-term care residents and staff that fall under this first phase.
Who will have access to the vaccine next?
The next group will be people 65 and older, and front-line essential workers such as firefighters, police officers, teachers, U.S. Postal Service workers, grocery store workers, correctional officers, public transit employees, child care providers and food processing workers.
State officials estimate this group, which it is calling "Phase 1B," will start receiving the vaccine in mid- to late January.
Delaware has not finalized who will receive the vaccine after people 65 and older and front-line essential workers.
The state has released a tentative timeline for later phases based on recommendations from the CDC, which includes people 16-64 with high-risk medical conditions, people in high-risk group settings such as shelters or group homes, and other essential workers in the next phase starting in March.
Who decides who gets the vaccine next? Why are they prioritizing certain groups?
The state is making decisions on who gets vaccinated first based on recommendations from an ethics advisory group composed of representatives from Delaware's largest health care providers and other state agencies.
The group has largely followed guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, deviating only slightly based on Delaware's demographic data.
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State officials say prioritizing who receives the early limited supply of the vaccine is necessary to make the largest impact on controlling the spread of the virus and its deadly effects, particularly in older populations.
They have placed workers who regularly risk exposure to COVID-19 at the front of the line, as well as older people who because of their age, high rate of underlying medical conditions and close living situations are at high risk of infection and severe illness.
"Please be patient with us," Dr. Karyl Rattay, director of the Division of Public Health, said last week. "There's just not enough vaccine for everyone right now."
How will I know when I can receive the vaccine?
Unlike some other states, Delaware does not have a system to notify members of the public or an online tool for people to check their eligibility.
The state says it will provide updates as more information becomes available.
The Division of Public Health has a vaccine call center that can be reached at (833) 643-1715 or email@example.com.
Where will I get the vaccine?
Essential workers in the next phase will likely receive the vaccine through their employer. If their employer does not provide the vaccine directly, they will likely receive a voucher to get the vaccine at a pharmacy, Rattay said.
"There's such a variety of different employer types out there, so there are going to be a variety of different approaches," Rattay said.
People 65 and older will be asked to contact their health care provider near the end of January to discuss vaccine options. If their health care provider is not enrolled in the state's vaccine program, people in this age group may also be able to get vaccinated at pharmacies or a public health clinic.
Those who are 65 and older and still working may also be able to receive the vaccine through their employer.
Rattay said more details will be shared as the state's plans become more clear. She also emphasized the need for early planning on the part of employers so people "know what to expect."
Plans for the later phases rely on employers as well as "traditional delivery systems," such as pharmacies, primary care providers and public health clinics. When available to a wider segment of the public, they'll be listed on vaccinefinder.org.
After receiving the vaccine for the first time, recipients will be given a vaccination record card that will say when they should receive a second dose. Vaccine recipients will receive reminders prior to when they should get a second dose by mail, automated phone call, email or through their provider’s existing patient reminder services.