High-risk health workers to get first COVID vaccines in Delaware

WILMINGTON — High-risk workers in health and patient care settings should be the first to receive the eventual COVID-19 vaccine, followed by first responders, essential workers, adults with high-risk medical conditions and those 65 years or older, according to the Delaware Division of Public Health.

The first supply of vaccine doses are expected to arrive in Delaware around Dec. 11 to Dec. 14. The DPH is planning a phased rollout of the vaccine, due to limited supply at the beginning.

Phase One is broken up into three sections (1A, 1B and 1C), according to recommendations in a proposal by the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices.

Phase 1A will go first, distributing vaccine to high-risk workers in health and patient care settings. These would be workers who are routinely exposed to infected patients or infectious materials, as both groups have similar risk profiles, said Dr. Rick Hong, the DPH’s medical director.

First responders and Emergency Medical Service workers will also be targeted in 1A as the state will then look to vaccinate essential workers during Phase 1B. Essential workers would include those in the education sector, food and agriculture sector, utility workers, police, firefighters, corrections officers and the transportation sector.

Phase 1C encompasses adults above the age of 65 and adults with high-risk medical conditions.

Depending on supply, Phase 1B and 1C would not necessarily have to wait until all of the members of the previous groups are vaccinated before receiving their vaccine.

“There could be simultaneous vaccination of multiple phase groups,” Dr. Hong said at a COVID-19 press briefing Tuesday. “Our goal is to get the vaccine out to as many people as possible, It’s really going to be dependent on what resources are available as well as how much vaccine we’re getting at a time.”

The DPH estimates it expects the vaccine to be available for the general population in the spring.

“I know we’ve answered many questions regarding the vaccine and it seems like the answers may be changing because the science, the process, is being very dynamic as well,” Dr. Hong said. “However it’s our job to make sure we provide the most up-to-date information so we can plan appropriately. We’re very anxious for it to come and we appreciate everyone’s patience in the process.”

The first doses Delaware will receive will be vaccines from Pfizer and Moderna. Both vaccines have been shown to be around 90% effective with minimal side effects.

“I know there’s some concerns about safety, there’s some concerns about whether it’s going to work,” Dr. Hong said. “We’re excited about initial reports about the effectiveness of both vaccines are about 90%.”

The DPH is posting information for the public and medical providers regarding the vaccine at de.gov/covidvaccine. This site will eventually include testimonials from individuals who have received the vaccine.

The Center for Disease Control held a conference call with the DPH on Nov. 20 where the DPH was told Delaware is ahead of the curve with its distribution plan.

“Help is on the way,” Gov. John Carney said. “Ultimately it will get us back to a place where we want to be.”

Staff writer Tim Mastro can be reached at tmastro@newszap.com.

Follow @TimMastroDSN on Twitter.

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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