There's still no timeline on when Delaware will begin its next phase of vaccinations, Phase 1c, which expands vaccinations to a new group of essential workers as well as Delawareans ages 16 to 64 with high-risk health conditions.
"This is a question I get all the time -- 'when am I up next? When's my group of essential employees going to be next?' The question I get most is -- 'what about me I'm in 1c?' kind of the general population," he said. "We'd like to get there as soon as we possibly can."
The governor said the state's move from phase to phase is systematic, based on the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices' determinations and input from a state ethics panel which considers equity and speed and can make changes to ACIO's recommendations. For example, Delaware lowered the eligible age for inoculation in Phase 1b to 65 based on death data.
A challenge the state faces is determining at what point everyone permitted to be vaccinated in a designated phase has had the opportunity to be inoculated.
"When do you figure that as many people who want a vaccine have gotten it? Because we know that there's hesitancy out there. We could wait forever, say, for 1a folks to step up and get a vaccine, and we know that they all did not do that, so we moved over to 1b, 65 and older, and then to the essential worker categories," said Carney at Tuesday's weekly coronavirus news conference.
But vaccine quantities are limited and the state's waiting list for seniors stands at least 70,000 strong so until that number is whittled down significantly, don't expect a transition to the next phase.
Two weekend clinics at Seaford High School and the Delaware City DMV will begin to work towards accomplishing the goal of getting seniors vaccinated, using 5,000 of the state's 8,000 doses of Johnson and Johnson vaccine received Tuesday.
"The data very much shows us that those who are 65 and up are at the greatest risk of death and hospitalization. Even those younger with chronic conditions have a lower risk, so age is really so incredibly important as a risk factor, and We want to make sure that our seniors--specifically our seniors who want to get vaccinated have an opportunity yo get vaccinated," said Dr. Rattay.
Within Phase 1b, the state has also moved on to vaccinate educators and child care workers. As many as 5,500 school employees and 2,200 child care employees will be inoculated by the end this week, state Education Secretary Susan Bunting said.
But the state isn't expecting more J&J vaccine until the end of the month, putting a damper on plans to speed up vaccinations. Phase 1c includes 70,000 essential workers. DPH told WDEL it had no "solid estimate" on how many individuals with chronic health conditions may fall under that phase.
"Now that our dose allocations seems to be more predictable in the last few weeks, we're trying to really crunch the numbers and get more specificity around when we can move to 1c comfortably," said Rattay.
Last month, Rattay said it could be April before 50% of those in Phase 1b obtain their first doses.