State receives bulk of Pfizer vaccine shipment

December 16, 2020

Delaware received the remaining 7,800 pre-ordered doses of the Pfizer BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine Dec. 16 – one of the first states in the nation to receive it.

Delaware’s first shipment of 975 doses arrived Dec. 14 at Bayhealth’s Kent County campus in Dover. On the first day of vaccination, Bayhealth was able to administer 88 doses of the vaccine, according to information reported by the healthcare system.

The latest shipment from Pfizer arrived at DPH’s warehouse in Kent County where the doses will be kept at below-freezing temperatures in the state’s ultra-cold storage unit until they are ready to be shipped to their final destinations, officials said. Most of the 7,800 Pfizer vaccine doses will be distributed to the state’s remaining five healthcare systems (Beebe Healthcare, ChristianaCare, Nemours duPont Hospital for Children, Saint Francis Healthcare, and TidalHealth Nanticoke) within the next 24 to 48 hours.

DPH Director Dr. Karyl Rattay said DPH is not mandating that healthcare workers get vaccinated, but the division is strongly encouraging it.

“This is a historic moment for us in public health, and I can’t express how eager I am to get the vaccine into the hands of our partners at the healthcare systems, so they can start to vaccinate their frontline and essential staff,” she said. “They have faithfully cared for the sickest Delawareans while bravely risking their own health and often sacrificing contact with their own families to keep us all healthy and safe. It is our greatest hope that those same healthcare workers will now care for themselves by receiving the COVID-19 vaccine. It is the best protection we can offer them, and one of the ways we will beat this virus.”

The Pfizer BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine was granted emergency use authorization by the U.S. Food & Drug Administration last week. The FDA’s advisory committee will meet Thursday to review manufacturer Moderna’s application for an emergency use authorization. If approved over the weekend, Delaware could receive an initial shipment of 16,700 doses of Moderna next week. DPH will also receive an additional 3,900 doses of the Pfizer vaccine next week; an additional 6,825 doses of Pfizer will be reserved as part of the federal pharmacy program for vaccinating long-term care residents and staff in the coming weeks, bringing the total of Delaware’s Pfizer allotment for the week of Dec. 21 to 10,725 doses.

The Pfizer BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine is authorized for use in persons 16 and older. The FDA and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are advising women who are pregnant or breastfeeding, individuals who have experienced allergic reactions to other vaccines and those who have compromised immune systems should discuss the benefits and risks of taking the vaccine with their medical provider before receiving it.

The potential side effects from the vaccine are similar to those experienced by people who receive the flu shot: soreness at the injection site, fever, headaches, and body aches that usually go away within 24 hours. Unless symptoms worsen or linger, there is no need to seek medical care. Pfizer reported no serious side effects from the vaccine, and there were no deaths directly linked to the vaccine itself. The FDA and CDC will continue to monitor the COVID-19 vaccine for safety and effectiveness and any long-term or rare side effects. 

The Pfizer vaccine has over a 90 percent effectiveness rate. Comparatively, the flu vaccine is generally 40 to 60 percent effective. The COVID-19 vaccine does not contain a live virus and cannot give individuals the coronavirus. 

The Pfizer vaccine does require two doses spaced about three weeks a part to be effective. The same brand of vaccine must be administered for both doses. DPH plans to remind individuals to get their second dose of the vaccine by sending reminder letters, providing automated phone calls and text messages and by patient record cards.

DPH is in the process of setting up a Vaccine Call Center, which it expects to be operational starting at 10:30 a.m., Thursday, Dec. 17. A phone number will be provided when it becomes available. Individuals can email their questions concerning the vaccine to Individuals can also visit for up-to-date information. will also have data on the vaccine available. 


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