State’s COVID vaccine plan being developed

DOVER — The Delaware Division of Public Health is submitting the first draft of its overview for a COVID-19 vaccine plan to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Friday.

The draft, due Friday, is part of the CDC Vaccination Program Interim Playbook for Jurisdiction Operation.

Dr. Karyl Rattay

“It’s a very early iteration of this work,” said DPH Director Dr. Karyl Rattay. “There’s still a lot of unknowns. We’ll fill in the blanks over time, but we’re working on planning for a variety of different scenarios depending on which vaccines come to our state, how much comes, etc.”

After the draft is submitted to the CDC, it will be reviewed, and the state will wait to receive more definitive strategies from the federal government.

Dr. Rattay said the DPH is working with its external partners on the plan, such as local hospitals, long-term care centers, pharmacies and health care providers.

She stressed that the DPH will not distribute a vaccine until it is proven to be safe.

“We want to make sure Delawareans know that we will not be distributing a vaccine that has not been shown to be safe and has not gone through the appropriate (Food and Drug Administration)-approval process,” Dr. Rattay said.

The DPH is currently compiling a list of medical providers willing and able to become COVID-19 vaccinators. The Delaware Health Alert Network recently sent out a survey to assess providers’ capacity to store and handle the COVID-19 vaccines, as well as the number of staff and patients in their practices who may need to be vaccinated.

In the letter sent to providers, the DPH said that while several COVID-19 vaccines are in development and are undergoing clinical trials, it is not known which vaccines will be approved.

The DPH said it is operating under the following assumptions:
• Limited COVID-19 vaccine doses may be available by early November 2020, but COVID-19 vaccine supply will increase substantially in 2021.
• Initially available COVID-19 vaccines will either be approved as licensed vaccines or authorized for use under an Emergency Use Authorization issued by the FDA.
• Cold chain storage and handling requirements for each COVID-19 vaccine product will vary from refrigerated (2 degrees C to 8 degrees C) to frozen (minus 20 degrees C) to ultra-cold (minus 60 degrees C to minus 80 degrees C) temperatures, and ongoing stability testing may impact these requirements.
• In most cases, two doses of COVID-19 vaccine, separated by either more than 21 or more than 28 days, will be needed for immunity, and second-dose reminders for patients will be necessary. Both doses will need to match each other (i.e., be the same vaccine product).
• Some COVID-19 vaccine products will likely require reconstitution with diluent or adjuvant at the point of administration.

The federal government will issue guidance on which groups should be prioritized for the first round of vaccinations.

“We’re going to need to prioritize who gets the vaccine first,” Dr. Rattay said. “We have a general idea of what that looks like. But it’s going to be very important that we work closely with our ethics committee to provide guidance and input on those decisions as we move forward.”

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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