The Delaware Division of Public Health has finalized its recommendations for Phase 1b, the next groups who will be considered eligible to receive a COVID-19 vaccine. These groups include frontline essential workers and persons 65 and older.
Currently, the state is in Phase 1a of vaccine rollout, which includes vaccinations for health care personnel with direct contact with ill patients or infectious material, emergency medical services agencies, and long-term care staff and residents. Vaccination for Phase 1b groups is expected to begin by the end of January. In early December, DPH announced it would make the vaccine available in several phases.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) voted on Dec. 20, 2020, that Phase 1b should include frontline essential workers and persons 75 years and older. ACIP defines frontline essential workers as: First Responders (Firefighters, Police), Education (teachers, support staff, child care staff), Food and Agriculture, Manufacturing, Corrections workers, U.S. Postal Service workers, public transit workers, and grocery store workers.
On Dec. 22, the State Ethics Advisory Group voted to recommend adopting the ACIP Phase 1b approach. However, DPH decided to lower the age the state would consider eligible in Phase 1b from 75 to 65 based on statewide COVID-related deaths. While the median age for deaths among White and Asian persons is 82 and 83 respectively, the median age for deaths among Blacks is 74 and it is 66 for Hispanic individuals.
Vaccine is estimated to begin to be available for some individuals in Phase 1b groups in mid – to late January; DPH will provide updates on timing as they become available. Due to limited supplies of the vaccines, they may not be available to everyone in Phase 1b initially. Individuals 65+ will be asked to contact their health care provider directly near the end of January to discuss their options for receiving the vaccine. The next phases after 1b could see vaccine availability in mid – to late February, and it likely will be April before there is more widespread availability based on current supply. However, timelines are flexible as more supply could be available if additional vaccines are approved for emergency use by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
Since Dec. 15, 21,814 vaccine doses have been administered in Delaware, and a total of 53,650 combined doses of the Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines have been received. All of the state’s hospital systems have received vaccine for staff, as have the Federally Qualified Health Centers. Some long-term care facilities began vaccinating in the last two weeks, while waiting for the federal pharmacy partnership program in Delaware to kick off.
DPH has set up a Vaccine Call Center at 1-833-643-1715. Those who are deaf or hard of hearing should call 2-1-1 or text their ZIP code to 898-211. DPH’s Vaccine Call Center is open from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday, and from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. Saturday. Individuals can email their questions concerning the vaccine to Vaccine@Delaware.gov. Individuals can also visit de.gov/covidvaccine for up-to-date information.