During a state town hall Monday night, two Delaware Division of Public Health officers tried to reassure the public about the safety of the vaccine and took questions from concerned Delawareans.
While little new information was added in the hourlong meeting with Dr. Karyl Rattay, director of the division, and Dr. Rick Hong, medical director of DPH, the pair focused of dispelling rumors and myths that have been circling the vaccine.
“We want to make sure that we provide the most accurate information available,” Hong said, “so people can make an informed decision.”
One rumor, they said, is that the side effects of the vaccine has been bad. Rattay likened the side effects to that of the flu vaccine.
Rattay also refuted claims that participants in the vaccine trials developed Bell’s Palsy. The two were not related, she said.
Very few people in Great Britain, where the vaccine began being administered last week, reported adverse allergic reactions, she said.
Rattay also noted that there has been no link identified between the vaccine and two deaths that accrued in the vaccine trial group and said the first recipient of the vaccine in the UK is not in critical condition, contrary to some reports.
Finally, Rattay confirmed that the vaccine is not mandatory in Delaware and said she doesn’t know any place that is making them mandatory.
Rattay and Hong said that people who currently have COVID-19 or people who have a severe allergic reaction after a previous dose of the vaccine should not get the vaccine. They also recommended people that are pregnant/breastfeeding, immunocompromised or have had allergic reactions to other vaccines should consult a physician before getting the vaccine.
The officials did not say how many doses of the vaccine each state hospital is getting to start immunizing its workers. But they said the hospitals would be distributing the vaccine to their employees.
The goal of the first phase of vaccinations, which should conclude around the 20th week of vaccine shipments — or mid-April — is to decrease the number of deaths and serious illnesses as a result of coronavirus, preserve the functioning of society, reduce the burden people already stricken with disease might have, and increase the chance for societal recovery, they said.
During a question-and-answer session, many people asked about their own eligibility to get the vaccine, and when and how they should go about it.
Here’s how Rattay and Hong answered:
- People with a history of severe allegoric reaction, even food allergy reactions, should consult a physician before getting the vaccine so they can get it in a controlled space where they could get emergency care if needed.
- People who live out of state but work in Delaware hospitals are eligible for the vaccine.
- People with Type-2 diabetes can be vaccinated safely.
- Both grocery store workers and teachers are considered to be in the phase one category, but nothing was said about what section or when those vaccinations would start.
- While there is currently no “magic number,” experts are saying that 70% of the population needs to be vaccinated in order for herd immunity to apply.
- Even if you’re vaccinated, you’re expected to continue to wear a mask, social distance, and recognize all other COVID-19 restrictions.
- Each vial of the vaccine must be used within 6 hours of first being tapped, meaning that state will have to come up with interesting ways to avoid waste.
More information on the vaccine and coronavirus can be found here.
Questions about the vaccine can be sent directly to Vaccine@Delaware.gov.