State preparing distribution plan for COVID vaccine

WILMINGTON — After progress on a COVID-19 vaccine was reported last week, the state is continuing to piece together its vaccine distribution plan.

News broke on Monday when Pfizer and BioNTech announced their vaccine candidate was found to be 90% effective.

Delaware Division of Public Health Director Dr. Karyl Rattay said the Pfizer vaccine was much more effective than anyone could have expected. However, it still needs to go through the process to be reviewed by the FDA to receive FDA approval.

When the vaccine could be available to the average Delawarean is still unknown.

“I wish I knew,” Dr. Rattay said. “I wish I could say January. But likely? I think optimistically March or April and probably it will become more widespread late spring or the summer. If it’s before then, I think we’ll be dancing in the streets with face-masks on.”

Dr. Rattay said the state was told earlier this year to be ready for possible limited supply of the vaccine in October or early November, so the DPH has been prepared. The state has a vaccine task force which meets weekly, including subcommittees on ethics and communications.

Before the vaccine will be widely available to the public, the DPH has identified multiple at-risk groups who will be prioritized to receive the first supply of vaccine. This could come by December, Dr. Rattay said.

These groups were identified by the Statewide Ethics Committee and is broken into two tiers — A and B.

Tier A is made up of first responders and high-risk workers in health facilities who deal with direct patient care.

Tier B consists of all high-risk workers in health care facilities who are not covered in Tier A. This includes workers in primary care and non-direct patient care.

Also in Tier B are individuals with underlying health conditions and those in certain congregate settings.

“We anticipate the initial supply will be very limited,” Dr. Rattay said. “So we’re looking at guidance. When will it come to Delaware? We’re not sure but we are ready. We were told it could come in October so we’ve been doing everything we could to be ready.”

Once those two tiers are covered, it will then open up to the public, which will likely be around the spring, whenever Delaware receives an adequate supply.

“It’s a large quantity of vaccine that needs to be produced to vaccinate our nation,” Dr. Rattay said. “It’s clearly important that we prioritize and focus on saving as many lives as we can and keeping Delaware up and running. We’re really looking forward to the time where we have an abundant supply of vaccine and I just don’t anticipate that any earlier than March and I think that’s optimistic.”

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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