Sussex vaccination events attract thousands

Saturday’s 1B event snarled by long lines, wait times; residents report less backups Sunday
January 26, 2021

Long lines and wait times again greeted residents at mass vaccinations sites across the state for the second weekend in a row, despite a new registration system designed to prevent backups.

Julie DelGiorno of Rehoboth Beach waited more than three hours Jan. 23 at the Georgetown Division of Motor Vehicles site so that her 80-year-old mother could get her shot.

“The wait time seemed somewhat excessive,” she said. “It was a trying experience for the folks waiting in lines both on the highway and once we were able to make it to the DMV parking areas and vaccine queues.”

Similar large crowds descended on mass vaccination events Jan. 16-18 prompting the Division of Public Health to create a registration system Jan. 20. On its first day, 56,000 signed up for vaccinations.

Frigid temperatures on Jan. 23 compounded problems by causing technology issues, according to a Division of Public Health explanation of the weekend events.

Delays were also caused by people arriving without an appointment, and others who had appointments but had not completed their pre-vaccination screening, officials said.

In Delaware City, Delaware State Police issued a traffic advisory Jan. 23 as long lines snaked onto public roadways. Lines in Georgetown stretched onto U.S. 113 and Bedford Street for the 2,690 people vaccinated Jan. 23.

“The issues Saturday were not what we planned, not what we wanted to see, and certainly not what we wanted our residents to experience. Our hardworking volunteers and staff stayed more than three hours later than scheduled Saturday to vaccinate all those with appointments, and then the DPH team and our partners worked into the night to identify the issues and take steps to improve things for Sunday,” said DPH Director Dr. Karyl Rattay.

Building on Saturday's crowded mass events, she said, officials made several improvements for the next day's event Jan. 24. These included a separate line for healthcare workers who had not been registered online, and providing generators for laptops and wi-fi systems. Georgetown also began vaccinations for people in line at 8:30 a.m. instead of 10 a.m. to accommodate individuals who arrived hours before their appointment time, Rattay said.

“By 1 p.m., wait times were reported at approximately one hour in Delaware City and as low as 15 minutes in Georgetown, with traffic largely cleared from surrounding roads and highways at both locations. All vaccinations were completed Sunday by 4:45 p.m,” she said.

A total of 2,250 people were vaccinated in Georgetown on Sunday.

Nearly 100 people, mostly volunteers from Beebe Healthcare and Sussex County Emergency Medical Services, helped administer COVID-19 vaccines during the Georgetown DMV mass clinic.

Beebe Healthcare President and CEO David Tam said at least 60 Beebe personnel were involved each day of the event. “Many of them are volunteering their time. They need people with clinical skills and that's what we have at Beebe Healthcare,” he said. “My message is to get the vaccine. Talk to your doctor to make sure you address concerns you might have, but get the vaccine. It's the sure-fire way to help us get back to a normal lifestyle.”

Dozens of Delaware Department of Transportation staff were on hand for traffic control.

Overall, more than 11,000 people were vaccinated over a three-day period Jan. 22 to 24 at sites in Delaware City and Georgetown. To date, Delaware has vaccinated 67,475 people with 28,850 doses remaining.

On Jan. 22, the Office of Emergency Medical Service notified the Delaware State Fire Prevention Commission that follow-up second vaccines for first responders would not be available as previously scheduled, said Ron Marvel, chairman of the commission, which is the certifying and licensing agency for Delaware emergency management technicians and basic life support ambulance service.

“At the current time, the commission is waiting for additional information from the Office of Emergency Medical Services regarding guidance for the second dose vaccinations as they become available,” Marvel said.

Rattay said vaccination opportunities will expand beyond large vaccination events at DMV locations to smaller events focused on communities around the state. The state is also expanding the number of pharmacy and primary care providers who are able to offer vaccinations, she said.

Residents who qualify for vaccinations are those in th 1A and 1B categories including those 65 and older, healthcare workers and other first responders. For more information, go to or

Hospitalizations drop below 400

Hospitalizations dropped below 400 Jan. 23, the lowest since mid-December.

The state posted 388 hospitalizations with 52 in critical care. Hospitalizations peaked for an all-time high of 474 on Jan. 12, and had not dropped below 400 since Dec. 14. The positivity rate decreased Jan. 21 to 6.5 percent for all COVID-19 tests for a rolling weekly average of 8.5 percent. Under 8 percent had been considered moderate spread by previous state data.

Total vaccines as of Jan. 23

67,475 vaccinated

28,850 doses remaining

96,325 doses delivered to Delaware

Georgetown vaccines

Jan. 23 – 2,690

Jan. 24 – 2,250

1A category

Healthcare personnel, emergency medical services agencies, long-term care staff and residents

1B category

Residents age 65 or older, police, firefighters, teachers, childcare providers, food processing workers, correctional officers, postal workers, public transit employees and grocery workers

Ron MacArthur contributed to this article


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