Second dose vaccines are becoming available to the thousands of Delawareans who were vaccinated at DMVs up and down the state in mid-January after many were left feeling fearful and anxious over a lack of vaccine supply and communication.
For the 3,800 Delawareans who were vaccinated with Moderna at the first Dover DMV vaccine clinic or at Salesianum School in Wilmington between January 16-18, registration for those second shots will begin later this week. The second round of Moderna shots will be administered by appointment only by Curative at Delaware Tech campuses in Wilmington, Dover, and Georgetown between Feb. 15-19.
Anyone who was vaccinated at the Delaware City or Georgetown DMVs between Jan. 22-24 will be eligible to get their second dose at Dover International Speedway, where FEMA is being asked to stand up a vaccination clinic. Additionally, those who were vaccinated at the Dover DMV or Salesianum between Jan. 16-18 can also use this site. Both Pfizer and Moderna vaccine quantities will be available at this site.
"The NFL offered all 30 NFL stadiums to the president to make use for vaccination sites. We don't have an NFL stadium here, but we have the next best thing in the Monster Mile," said Delaware Emergency Management Director A.J. Schall.
Dover was chosen because Schall said it's "accessible" and efficient. The site, with FEMA's help can vaccinate thousands per day.
"A six-day event to get those second doses into people, center of the state, accessible right off Route 1, 13, just about an hour from anywhere at the most," said Schall. "Our thought is we're also going to keep the structure, whatever we set-up there, standing for those days where we do have an ample supply and are able to turn it around."
Despite FEMA's assistance, the federal government is not supplying additional vaccine quantities for this site.
"These vaccines that are going to these large events to accommodate the second dose for the earlier group are vaccines that can't go to the next group," said Gov. Carney.
For seniors who can't get to Dover because they face mobility challenges or only drive locally, Schall said they'll consider more localized events.
"We are going to monitor those numbers," said Schall. "If that's the way we need to respond post the Dover event, I think we're willing to set a day aside a week or two days a week...we will swing the pendulum one way or the other as the data gives us.
"We do know that the week when we did the soft launch of 65+ in Dover, there was people from all over the state that drove there. So, yes, they may have to ask a family member to take them, but we're also going to make sure we monitor it an see if we have to do something localized, and just make sure we balance it. We want to make sure we don't delay those first doses by doing too many second doses as well," Schall said.
Pharmacies are also an option for second dose shots--if you can get an appointment. But the number of locations carrying specifically the Pfizer vaccine is extremely limited. The state's website shows just Sam's Club, Walmart, CareportMD, and Aspira Health as the only locations offering the Pfizer vaccine.
"We have asked all pharmacies that are providing vaccine to make second doses available as best as possible, so there are other options," said Rattay.
Proof of first dose vaccination will be required at all sites, and without that proof, you will be turned away. Anyone who has misplaced or lost their vaccination card should email their full name and date of birth to firstname.lastname@example.org. For those without email access, call the Division of Public Health at 1.833.643.1715.
Last month, the state asked for patience, but pledged that anyone who received the first dose would get access to a second dose in a 28- to 35-day timeframe, after the CDC updated its guidance to extend the timeline to receive the second shot within 42 days in "extenuating circumstances." The pledge did little to allay frazzled nerves as people scrambled, some unsuccessfully, to find other options to receive their second dose while others have since had second dose appointments canceled.
"If for some reason, you're not able to get your second dose kind of on time or on-schedule, and even if it slips by the 42 days, their recommendation is to still try to get that second dose beyond that," said Governor John Carney, referencing what a CDC representative told the governors Tuesday on a White House call.
“Delivering second doses and first doses at the same time with limited supply of doses every week is a challenge, which is why we are targeting these Curative appointments and our partnership with FEMA to address individuals who received the first doses at our large events in January,” said DPH Director Dr. Karyl Rattay in a written statement. “As vaccine supply from the federal government increases, we expect it will become easier to receive first and second doses at pharmacies or from medical providers.”
The Division of Public Health is partnering with community organizations to get second shots to low-income seniors with mobility challenges who got their first dose at Salesianum on Jan. 18.
Delawareans who were vaccinated at the Chase Center in Wilmington on Jan. 30 will be offered an opportunity to register for their second dose when their time gets closer. Registration for this group is not yet open as supply remains limited.
“We’re continuing to press forward with our goal of vaccinating as many Delawareans as possible, as quickly as possible,” said Carney in a prepared statement. “Supply of the COVID-19 vaccine from the federal government remains our biggest challenge. That's why we’re focused this week on second doses, especially for vulnerable Delaware seniors. We have the capacity to increase vaccinations as federal supply allows. Until then, continue to wear a mask. Avoid gatherings. Stay vigilant.”
As it becomes available, second dose registration or scheduling information will be listed on de.gov/getmyvaccine and will be emailed to all eligible individuals the state has e-mail addresses for via the CDC/VAMs registration site.
As of Monday, February 8, more than 10% of Delaware's population had received their first shot with the state administering more than 126,000 doses of vaccine.
Delaware remains in Phase 1b of vaccinations. Due to limited supply, it does not expect to open eligibility to Phase 1c in March as planned.
As many as 75,000 Delawareans in Phase 1b remain on the state's waiting list to get their first shots. Since the waiting list launched, 107,000 signed up, and 32,000 vaccines have been administered, according to the governor's office.
"As we use some of that supply to make sure we get those second doses out, the number of doses we get from the federal government for first doses is going to decline," said Carney. "Unless that supply increases-- basically doubles--in order to meet the demand for second doses, we're not going to be able to expand that."
Carney said he looks forward to the Johnson & Johnson vaccine getting its FDA emergency use authorization.
"It will be a game-changer for us because it will open up so many more opportunities to deliver first doses to the people of our state," he said.
Data from Johnson & Johnson's clinical trials is due at the end of this month. So far, the state has not set another target date to begin Phase 1c vaccinations.
"It may be not until April that we can get 50% of those in 1b their first doses, and so this Johnson & Johnson vaccine...will be a complete game-changer for us, and frankly, it can't get here soon enough," said Rattay.