Phase 1b of the coronavirus vaccine will include frontline essential workers and persons 65 and older, the Delaware Division of Public Health announced today.
Meanwhile, the Wilmington Veterans Affairs Medical Center announced today that it is scheduled to expand its vaccinations on Wednesday at its clinics in Kent and Sussex counties. It began vaccinations at its New Castle County site on Dec. 22.
The state is currently vaccinating people in Phase 1a, including health care personnel, emergency medical services agencies and long-term care staff and residents. Vaccination for Phase 1b groups is expected to begin by the end of January.
Individuals 65+ will be asked to contact their health care provider directly near the end of January to discuss their options for receiving the vaccine. Employees in the essential industries are expected to get their vaccines coordinated by their employers.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices defines the 1b industries as first responders (firefighters, police), education (teachers, support staff, child care staff), food and agriculture, manufacturing, corrections workers, U.S. Postal Service workers, public transit workers and grocery store workers.
The state is already working with several of these groups on arranging the vaccines. It has also asked leaders in these industries to which staff members should be prioritized “based on factors such as frequent close contact with the public, and inability to social distance consistently at work,” the state said.
The health department said it lowered the age for 1b from the federal recommendation of 75 to 65 based on statewide COVID-related deaths. “While the median age for deaths among white and Asian persons is 82 and 83 respectively, the median age for deaths among Blacks is 74, and it is 66 for Hispanic individuals,” the state said.
“Making this small change from the ACIP recommendations is the right thing to do for all people in our state,” Dr. Karyl Rattay, the department’s director, said in a statement. “Doing so provides us the opportunity to vaccinate and protect many more Delawareans, especially those who are already disproportionately impacted by COVID-19 to begin with due to a variety of factors.”
>The State Ethics Advisory Group, which on Dec. 22 approved the 1b plan, did not address any other groups, but it is expected to vote on a Phase 1c group soon.
DPH has set up a vaccine call center at 833-643-1715 (8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. weekdays and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturdays), an email address (Vaccine@Delaware.gov) and a website, de.gov/covidvaccine/span>
Other states are also veering from federal guidelines. Florida and Texas, for instance, are “offering vaccine to a broader segment of their elderly populations and asking front-line workers to wait,” the Washington Post reported.