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Delaware is moving into next vaccine phase: What to know

Brandon Holveck
Delaware News Journal

Delaware is moving to the next phase of its COVID-19 vaccination plan, now offering the vaccine to people 65 and older and some essential workers.

In just over a month, the state administered 46,141 of the 77,600 vaccine doses it received, covering around half of the front-line health care workers and long-term care residents and staff included in its first phase.

To support the next phase of vaccinations, the state will launch an online appointment request system on Wednesday geared toward matching those 65 and older with a slot at state-run vaccination events.

Here's what you need to know.

Drivers line up to be vaccinated at a vaccine clinic at the Dover DMV on Saturday, Jan. 16, 2021.

Who is now eligible to get a vaccine in Delaware?

Delaware on Tuesday officially moved to phase 1B of its vaccine rollout plan, which means the following groups can now receive the vaccine.

  • People 65 and older
  • Firefighters
  • Police officers
  • Correctional officers
  • Teachers and education staff (including child care providers)
  • U.S. postal workers
  • Food manufacturing and agricultural workers
  • Transportation workers
  • Grocery store workers

Those who were included in phase 1A but have not yet received a vaccine can still be vaccinated. That group includes health care workers, medical first responders and long-term care residents and staff.

Patricia Bennett receives the first dose of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine from New Castle County Paramedics Sgt. Scott Kier on Monday, Jan. 18, 2021. The state vaccinated 950 health care workers and senior citizens as part of its "soft launch" of administering the vaccine to residents who are 65 or older.

How will people 65 and older be vaccinated?

The largest group within phase 1B is people 65 and older. They will primarily be vaccinated through state-run mass vaccination events. The state has conducted several of these at Divison of Motor Vehicles facilities over the past few weeks and has five scheduled this weekend.

The state will use an online registration system to assign residents times for each of these events and future mass vaccination clinics. Here is the process for getting an appointment, according to the state. Registration opens Wednesday at 8:30 a.m.

  • Request an appointment at de.gov/covidvaccine, which will put seniors on a waiting list.
  • The state will send an email with an invitation to sign up for an upcoming event. The state says the invitation emails will be unique; therefore, they can not be shared.
  • Invitations will be sent based on "age, medical condition and other risk factors." Those who do not receive an appointment immediately will remain on the waiting list for future events.
  • Those without computer access will be able to make an appointment by calling 1-833-643-1715. The governor's office urges people to use the online system instead of their new call center in order to sign up, since both are experiencing a high volume of requests as of Wednesday morning.

This weekend's events will be held Friday at the Delaware City DMV and Saturday and Sunday at the Delaware City and Georgetown DMV locations. The state says people who arrive without an appointment should not expect to be vaccinated.

Some people 65 and older will be able to get vaccinated at some primary care and specialty care providers, such as medical practices and urgent care centers. Some providers will contact their own patients to offer vaccination appointments, and others may invite the public to request appointments, the state says.

Not every primary care and specialty care provider can administer the vaccine. Providers have to enroll through the state, a process that requires special training and equipment.

Starting next week, a list of pharmacies taking COVID-19 vaccine appointments will be available at de.gov/covidvaccine, according to the state. At this time, pharmacies will be vaccinating only members of phase 1A and people 65 and over.

People line up to receive the COVID-19 vaccine at Salesianum School on Monday, Jan. 18, 2021. Delaware vaccinated 950 health care workers and senior citizens as part of its "soft launch" of administering the vaccine to residents who are 65 or older on Monday, Jan. 18, 2021.

How will essential workers be vaccinated?

Teachers and education staff: The Department of Education will be announcing vaccination options for educators and school staff this week.

Acme/Safeway pharmacies will host vaccination events for educators at multiple school sites throughout the state. Educators will also be able to be vaccinated at Acme/Safeway pharmacies. The state says these options will be available starting next week.

Child care workers: Information on vaccine options specifically for child care workers, provided by the Department of Education's Office of Child Care Licensing, will be released next week, the state says.

Correctional officers: The Department of Correction began receiving vaccines earlier this month. DOC will vaccinate inmates and officers based on age and health condition, the state says. Officers performing "1A functions" and inmates and officers over age 65 with serious medical conditions have already been offered vaccines, the state said.

Other front-line essential workers: The Division of Public Health and the Division of Small Business are managing vaccination planning for other front-line essential workers.

The Division of Small Business will release information "in the coming days" for employers who want to host their own vaccination events or who want to help their employees learn where to get vaccinated. Questions can be directed to covid19faq@delaware.gov.

Prepared shots of the Pfizer BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine lay at Bayhealth's Kent County Campus COVID-19 vaccination clinic Tuesday, Dec. 15, 2020, in Dover. The hospital began giving vaccinations to fontline employees early Tuesday morning.

How long will it take to vaccinate phase 1B?

In a press release, the state said it could take "weeks or months" to vaccinate everyone covered under phase 1B. 

The state estimates there are more than 200,000 people who qualify for vaccines under phase 1B, in addition to the roughly 70,000 people who qualify under phase 1A.

Delaware on Tuesday reported 401 new COVID-19 cases, lowering the seven-day average for new cases to 700.1. The number of people hospitalized with COVID-19 increased from 434 to 454. The state reported six new deaths, raising the death toll to 1,021.

Contact Brandon Holveck at bholveck@delawareonline.com. Follow him on Twitter @holveck_brandon.