COVID-19 vaccinations have begun in staff at long-term care centers in Delaware, which have been hard-hit by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Genesis Healthcare, which operates three long-term care facilities downstate, received dosages of the Pfizer vaccine from the Division of Public Health and began vaccinating staff Thursday at its Dover, Milford, and Seaford facilities. Genesis received 60 initial doses of vaccine for distribution, according to DPH.
Genesis' Milford facility saw a major COVID-19 outbreak early on in the pandemic in April. At least a dozen residents died.
Kolubah Gomiah, a nurse at Genesis, told WRDE-TV he was happy to be a part of the first round of vaccinations.
"It was a big relief. The thing about it, coming to work with the anxiety of not knowing if you had the virus, the potential of giving it to someone else, to the patients, not knowing at all, you just carry," he said.
“Vaccination is the critical third leg of the stool, along with personal protective equipment and testing, in stemming the spread of COVID-19 in nursing homes and protecting residents and health care workers,” said Richard Feifer, MD, MPH, FACP, Chief Medical Officer at Genesis in a prepared statement.
Residents of long-term care centers can begin being vaccinated on Dec. 28, 2020 as part of vaccination efforts under the federal pharmacy program. Walgreens and CVS pharmacists are partnering with facilities to vaccinate residents. Doses of that vaccine will be shipped directly to the pharmacies from the federal level though allotments will come from each state's total allocation.
“We are all relieved to see that this vaccine has arrived at our long-term care facilities to protect Delaware’s most vulnerable citizens from COVID-19,” said Governor John Carney in a prepared statement. “But we’re not through the woods yet. We still face a difficult winter surge of cases and hospitalizations. Stay vigilant until we can widely distribute the vaccine. Wear a mask. Don’t gather with friends or family outside your household. We’ll get through this.”
We may have to continue to social distance and take other measures to keep our mothers, fathers and grandparents safe, but thanks to arrival of this vaccine, we can be assured that they will be better protected from the virus at a time when it is spiking in our communities. I am grateful that Delaware is among the first to offer this protection.”
Residents at long-term care facilities account for 1,736 of the state’s 47,929 positive coronavirus cases as of December 11. Long-term care residents account for slightly more than half of the state's overall 833 coronavirus deaths as of Dec. 11.
“Since March, many of us have not been able to visit with our parents and grandparents as we have tried to protect them from the virus the only tools available to us masks and social distancing,” said Dr. Karyl Rattay, Director of the Division of Public Health, in a prepared statement. “This vaccine not only offers our seniors and long-term staff protection from the virus, it gives us hope that one day soon we will be able to visit with our loved ones again. It also means more of us will be here to celebrate the holidays next year. I am grateful Delaware is able to do this for its long-term care residents.”