Gov. John Carney and the Delaware Division of Public Health announced Jan. 19 that the state will transition to Phase 1B in its COVID-19 vaccination plan this week, with a focus on persons 65 and up.
A new appointment request system will be used for large events for about 200,000 residents who qualify for vaccines, officials said.
More than 200,000 Delawareans qualify for vaccination in this phase, and multiple options for residents to be vaccinated will begin this week and then expand in coming weeks, including large vaccination events with a new appointment request system.
Phase 1B includes all individuals 65 and over, and frontline essential workers including: fire, police, correctional officers, teachers and education staff (including child care providers), U.S. postal workers, food manufacturing, agriculture, transportation and grocery store workers. Efforts will also continue to vaccinate Phase 1A healthcare personnel and nursing home residents and staff who have not yet been vaccinated.
Carney and Dr. Karyl Rattay will hold a COVID-19 update and public Q&A on Phase 1B vaccine rollout at 7 p.m., Tuesday, Jan. 19. Delawareans can submit questions to firstname.lastname@example.org. The Q&A will be streamed on facebook.com/johncarneyde and livestream.com/stateofdelaware.
So far, the Georgetown Division of Motor Vehicles will host a drive-through vaccination event Saturday and Sunday, Jan. 23 and 24, for all who qualify and register at de.gov/covidvaccine. Registration will open at 8:30 a.m., Wednesday, Jan. 20.
The Division of Public Health, county EMS agencies, the Delaware Medical Reserve Corps, and hospital partners including Beebe Healthcare, have scheduled five drive-through vaccination events for persons 65 and older, as well as for remaining Phase 1A personnel, officials said.
“We are committed to protecting the most vulnerable Delawareans from COVID-19,” Carney said in a press release. “Our goal is to get as many Delawareans vaccinated as quickly and safely as possible. That’s how we’ll beat this virus, get back to normal, and rebuild. The reality is that will take some time and some patience, so in the meantime, let’s do what works. Wear a mask. Wash your hands. Avoid gatherings. Stay vigilant.”
With limited vaccination doses available from the federal government, officials strongly caution that it could take weeks or months for all 200,000 Phase 1B eligible individuals to be vaccinated.
“We are excited to be able to move into this next phase of vaccinating Delawareans but must ask for patience as everyone in this group simply cannot be vaccinated in a matter of days,” said Rattay. “With limited resources, there will be some attention within Phase 1B based on the risk factors we know, and the focus will be – especially in the first large vaccination events – on those 65 and over. We are looking forward to growing our vaccine options in the coming weeks to give people statewide multiple options for COVID-19 vaccination, as they now have for COVID-19 testing or flu shots.”
The registration system currently for Delawareans ages 65 and older will have the following steps: (1) An individual will request an appointment at de.gov/covidvaccine which will put them on a waiting list and (2) when appointments become available, invitation emails will be sent to individuals to schedule an appointment online for an upcoming event. These invitations will be unique and cannot be shared. Seniors with computer access are advised to request an appointment through this online system, which will be available in English, Spanish and Haitian Creole. For seniors without computer access only, a phone line will be announced Wednesday to take requests for an appointment and, as slots become available, to help complete the appointment process.
DPH expects more requests for vaccination event appointments than doses and slots available for the first weekend and the foreseeable future. Sending of invitations to schedule appointments will occur based on age, medical condition and other risk factors. Delawareans age 65 and older who request an appointment but do not immediately receive an invitation email will continue to be on the waiting list to receive an invitation for future vaccination events. Multiple requests will not increase the chance of receiving an invitation for an appointment.
Any individuals who arrive without an appointment for this weekend’s events should not expect to be vaccinated. In the next few weeks, additional large-scale vaccination venues are expected to be brought online to vaccinate Phase 1B individuals and future phase groups. As the state progresses through and past Phase 1B, the appointment system will be used for individuals in future phases.
Those who receive appointments for vaccination events are reminded to please dress in appropriate clothing so that your upper arm can be exposed, including not getting out of the vehicle at a drive-through event to remove a coat or shirt. Also, if someone has received a flu, shingles or other vaccination recently, they cannot receive a COVID-19 vaccination within 14 days of the prior vaccination.
As a reminder, both before and after receiving a vaccine, people should continue to wear face coverings, social distance, avoid hosting or attending large gatherings, and wash and sanitize hands frequently.