State announces distribution plan for Moderna vaccine

DOVER — Delaware will soon distribute the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine granted emergency use authorization by the U.S. Food & Drug Administration.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Advisory Committee Immunization Practices voted Saturday to recommend the emergency use of the vaccine for individuals 18 and older. The Pfizer BioNTech vaccine, which started distribution this past week, is approved for use in persons 16 and older. 

CDC Director Robert Redfield must still approve the advisory committee’s recommendations, but this is expected to occur within days. The ACIP recommendation and CDC sign-off are the final steps in the approval process before states can begin vaccinating residents.

Delaware is set to receive 16,700 doses of the Moderna vaccine within the next few days, along with 2,925 doses of Pfizer.

Most of the vaccines will be shipped directly to enrolled vaccine providers such as hospitals and Health Centers such as Henrietta Johnson Medical Center, Westside Family Healthcare and La Red Health Center. The remainder will be sent to the Division of Public Health for distribution to EMS agencies and other settings.

High-risk health care, long-term care, EMS and other health care personnel are among those eligible to receive the vaccine in the first phase of distribution. 

People who work in high-risk and critical infrastructure industries such as food processing, utilities, education, police and fire, have certain underlying health conditions and are 65 and older are likely to receive the vaccine early next year.

Those with more moderate risk for getting COVID-19 are eligible for receiving the vaccine when phase two begins in March. More details about specific groups in this phase will be provided in the future.

Phase three, in which the general public can expect to receive vaccines through their primary health care providers, health centers and pharmacies as the vaccine becomes more widely available, will follow in the spring or summer.

“We are excited about the approval of a second vaccine that is shown to be effective in preventing COVID-19,” DPH Director Dr. Karyl Rattay said in a statement. “This will expand our ability to vaccinate more people in our state and increase protection from this deadly virus.”

As of Saturday, Delaware has administered 2,061 doses of the Pfizer BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine to health care workers at six health care systems statewide and three long-term care facilities owned by Genesis HealthCare Inc.

The Moderna vaccine, which has a 94.1 percent efficacy rate, does not contain the live virus and cannot give someone the coronavirus. The potential side effects from it are similar to those experienced by people who receive the shingles vaccine: fever, headaches, and muscle and joint pain, swollen lymph nodes in the same arm as the injection, nausea and vomiting.

More people experienced these side effects after the second dose than after the first dose, DPH said. Side effects are reported to go away within one to three days, and although not dangerous, may feel unpleasant. Unless symptoms worsen or linger, there is no need to seek medical care.

Moderna reported no serious side effects from the vaccine.  

The Moderna vaccine requires two doses spaced about four weeks apart to be effective. The same brand of vaccine must be administered for both doses. DPH and providers plan to remind individuals to get their second dose of the vaccine by sending reminder letters, providing automated phone calls and text messages and through patient record cards. Second dose reminders will begin to go out from DPH just prior to or after Christmas.

Moderna has set up a call center for questions from the public and providers, operational 24 hours per day, seven days per week at 1-866-MODERNA (1-866-663-3762). Moderna is advising high volumes of calls between 8 a.m. and 8 p.m.

DPH has set up a Delaware-specific vaccine call center, reachable at 672-6150. Those who are deaf or hard of hearing should call 2-1-1 or text their ZIP code to 898-211. It is open from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday and from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday. Individuals can email their questions concerning the vaccine to Vaccine@Delaware.gov.

Visit de.gov/covidvaccine for up-to-date information.


Helpful Coronavirus links

Delaware Division of Health Coronavirus Page
CDC: About the Coronavirus Disease 2019
CDC: What to do if You Are Sick
Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center
AP News Coronavirus Coverage
Reopening Delaware: Resources for Businesses
Delaware Phase 2 guidance

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