The staff of long-term care facilities in Dover, Milford and Seaford were expected to begin getting COVID-19 vaccinations today.
After receiving 7,800 doses of the Pfizer BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine Thursday in Kent County, the state transferred some to Genesis Healthcare Inc., a Kennett Square, Pennsylvania, company that owns senior living centers in Dover, Milford and Seaford. All three locations plan to start vaccinating staff Thursday, the state said in a press release.
Residents of long-term care facilities are expected to begin receiving the vaccine the week of Dec. 28 as part of vaccination efforts under the federal pharmacy program. Walgreens and CVS pharmacists are partnering with facilities to to go that. That vaccine will be shipped directly to the pharmacies from the federal level, but the doses come out of Delaware’s total allocation.
Gov. John Carney took the opportunity to point out that safety guidelines will remain in place.
“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,” he said in a press release.
“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,” he said. “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.”
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 455 of the state’s 833 coronavirus deaths, as of December 11. That is slightly more than half.
“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 Delaware Division of Public Health. “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.”
Genesis’s chief medical officer called vaccination “the critical third leg of the stool” in stopping the spread of COVID-19 in nursing home. The other two are personal protective equipment and testing.
“This is unquestionably the biggest vaccination effort ever undertaken,” said Dr. Richard Feifer.