Why Delaware health care workers, high-risk populations will get the COVID-19 vaccine first
Once a coronavirus vaccine is approved and available in Delaware, there won't be enough for everyone in the state to get it at once.
In fact, the amount will be pretty limited at the start, said Dr. Karyl Rattay, director of the Delaware Division of Public Health, during Gov. John Carney's weekly coronavirus press briefing Tuesday.
Health care workers and other first responders will get first dibs. High-risk populations, including people over 65 and residents in long-term care facilities, will also be first in line.
"It's always important that you vaccinate your front-line health care workers and first responders as early as you can because we have to keep them safe and functioning," Rattay said.
It's not clear exactly when a vaccine will become available in the U.S. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released a document earlier this month that said the vaccine might be available by early November but significantly more may be available for distribution starting in January 2021.
The vaccine likely won't be widely available to the American public until the second or third quarter of 2021, according to CDC Director Dr. Robert Redfield who addressed the Senate last week.
Rattay's division has been preparing for months a plan on making the vaccine available in Delaware. Much of that plan is completed based on information they have so far, and the state is on deadline to submit its plan to the CDC in about 30 days, she said.
ANONYMOUS COVID APP:This app could let Delawareans know if they have been exposed to COVID-19
"Eventually ... we'll have adequate vaccine for every Delawarean," Rattay said. "All of that will evolve in the upcoming next six to nine months or so."
Officials shouldn't bank on all Delawareans being equally eager for the shot.
GUN VIOLENCE IN WILMINGTON:In Mayor Mike Purzycki's redeveloped Wilmington, gun violence still plagues communities
A recent USA TODAY/Suffolk Poll found that two-thirds of U.S. voters said they won't try to get a coronavirus vaccine as soon as it becomes available, and one in four said they don't want to ever get it.
Some of the mistrust comes from the President Donald Trump administration's push to accelerate the vaccine's development. Meanwhile, a significant portion of the country opposes vaccines of any kind.
"When we have a vaccine, it will be safe," Carney said. "There's a lot going around on the internet and whatnot that vaccines are not safe."
TRACKING CORONAVIRUS IN SCHOOLS:Help us track positive cases of COVID-19 in Delaware schools
In the meantime, officials are urging Delawareans not to let their guard down as the pandemic rages on. The state is nearing 20,000 total cases with 628 deaths as of Tuesday.
"These face coverings, they work," Rattay said. "And we know people are tired of it. But it’s important that when we’re around anyone else, within six feet especially, make sure that you’re wearing a face covering.”
Wilmington, Newark and Bridgeville are "areas of concern," according to Rattay.
On Tuesday, Rattay also urged Delawareans ages six months and older to get their flu shot this year.
"The flu vaccine won't prevent us from getting COVID, it will prevent illness, which is really important," she said, adding that the flu stresses the health care system and "maxes out our capacity in our hospitals."
"If we have COVID and flu at the same time, that's going to be putting an exceptional strain on the health care system," she said.
Delawareans can find out where to get a flu shot at flu.delaware.gov.
Carney also urged people to take advantage of the free COVID-19 testing sites across the state. Delawareans can find out where to get at-home or in-person testing at de.gov/gettested.
Carney also urged Delawareans to sign up for the COVID Alert DE app, a free anonymous app that you can download on your phone. Through Bluetooth technology, the app could alert users they have come in contact with someone who has tested positive for coronavirus.
Pennsylvania launched its own version of the app Tuesday, which will be able to share information with Delaware's app and hopefully help curb the spread of COVID-19.
Sarah Gamard covers government and politics for Delaware Online/The News Journal. You can reach her at (302) 324-2281 or firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also follow her on Twitter @SarahGamard,