ChristianaCare COVID-19 Pfizer vaccine

Persons who are 65 and older as well as additional frontline workers declared "essential" during the coronavirus pandemic will be next up to receive the COVID-19 vaccine early next year, the Delaware Division of Public Health said Tuesday.

Those included in Phase 1b can expect to begin getting vaccinated towards the end of January 2021 with quantities of vaccine expected to arrive some mid- to late January. DPH will provide updates on timing as allotments of vaccine become available.

The CDC's Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) recommended those 75 and older be included in Phase 1b, but based on statewide COVID-19 death data, the state Ethics Advisory Committee has lowered the age of persons eligible to receive the vaccine in the second round to 65.

While the median age for deaths among White and Asian persons is 82 and 83 respectively, the median age for deaths among Black persons is 74, and it is 66 for Hispanic individuals, DPH said.

“Making this small change from the ACIP recommendations is the right thing to do for all people in our state,” said DPH Director Dr. Karyl Rattay in a prepared statement. “Doing so provides us the opportunity to vaccinate and protect many more Delawareans, especially those who are already disproportionately impacted by COVID-19 to begin with due to a variety of factors.” 

Also included in the second round of vaccinations in Phase 1b are first responders like firefighters and paramedics, educators, support staff and child care workers, as well as USPS employees and employees in the following industries: food and agriculture, manufacturing, corrections, public transit, and grocery store workers.

However, firefighters and paramedics have already begun getting their vaccinations in Delaware. Last week, Kent County EMS vaccinated some of its staff, while more will be vaccinated this week. New Castle County began its first vaccinations of paramedics Tuesday, December 29, 2020.

Essential worker, across a broad sector of industries, who live in surrounding states, but are employed in Delaware will be eligible to receive the vaccine in the phase upon which they become eligible, Rattay told WDEL.

"If you are working in our state, you would be eligible in our state, and it's the same thing for people who live here, but work in Maryland, or Pennsylvania, or New Jersey--many will be likely to get the vaccine through their employer first, and so it is thought that it will probably be a relatively even exchange across states, where people if they get vaccinated where they work," she said.

Within those industries, managers will be asked to identify which staff should receive the vaccine first based on close contact with members of the public and/or inability to social distance while working. DPH is already working with these industries to identify these individuals. Frontline essential workforce leaders in these categories who have not heard from DPH are encouraged to visit the Agencies, Organizations, and Businesses section of de.gov/covidvaccine and complete the Planning Survey for Organizations with Essential Workforces.

Rattay said there will be a variety of approaches to vaccine administration. She pointed to poultry plants that have healthcare teams that can manage the vaccination process, but noted smaller places of employment like child care centers could receive vouchers for employees.

"Often, they're small centers, and it won't make sense for them to vaccinate in each center, so likely, they'll be getting a voucher, which will enable them to go to a pharmacy that accepts vouchers to get vaccinated," said Rattay. "There will be some events, closed pods, we call them, closed events where, for example, one type of profession may choose to partner with a vaccinating partner and make times available for their team to get vaccinated. What we really advocate right now is for employers to spend some time on our website, fill out the survey, get the information to us so they can start really getting their plans together."

The state Ethics Advisory Group is expected to vote on who will be included in a third round of vaccinations under Phase 1c soon. The ACIP has recommended that group of "essential" workers includes those in transportation and logistics, water and wastewater, food service, shelter and housing (e.g., construction), finance (e.g., bank tellers), information technology and communications, energy, legal, media, public safety (e.g., engineers), and public health workers. The group meets next January 11, 2021. 

Persons eligible under Phase 1c could begin getting vaccinated in mid-to-late February of 2021.

The general public should not expect to be vaccinated until late spring or early summer.

Since vaccine became available in Delaware, DPH said 8,422 front-line healthcare workers and long-term care staff have rolled up their sleeves to be inoculated, according to DPH. To date, Delaware has received 28,400 doses of the Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines. 

Got questions about the COVID-19 vaccine? Call DPH's Vaccine Call Center at 1.833.643.1715 between 8:30 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday or Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Questions can also be emailed to vaccine@Delaware.gov.