The state is opening COVID-19 vaccines to the 1B group today and creating an online vaccine appointment system that will be available so members of that group can register.
The state also had a trial run Monday at Salesianum School with members of senior organizations invited to attend to be vaccinated.
State Sen. Mike Smith, R-Newark, said on his Facebook page that the state will announce today that vaccines are available to the 1B group, which includes senior citizens and essential workers. They will sign up via a link on the new system, he said.
The Delaware National Guard medical staff, New Castle County paramedics and the state Division of Public Health staffed the trial run at Saliesianum Monday.
The event also included healthcare and first responders, “the tail end of the Phase 1A group,” said Jeff Sands, community relations coordinator for the Delaware Department of Emergency Medicine.
The senior groups were invited to attend to test the way an indoor vaccination would work with the 1B group, which is specifically ages 65 and up as well as essential workers, he said.
The Dover vaccinations were meant for 1A health workers, including community organizations that direct service to individuals with disabilities.
“In addition to health care workers and EMS staff, some organizations with senior citizen members were also asked to recruit a limited number of 65 and older individuals to test and evaluate the logistics of vaccinating the senior population and to ensure vaccines didn’t go to waste,” said Jill Fredel, director of communications for the Department of Health and Social Services.
“We did not have the vaccine or the logistical capacity to open this weekend’s pods to all 186,000 Delaware seniors,” she said.
Unfortunately, she said, word of mouth caused uninvited individuals to arrive on Saturday.
“DPH made the game-time decision to vaccinate those who showed up uninvited, because determining who among the over 65 and over crowd was invited and who was not, was not logistically feasible,” she said.
Screening protocols were tightened Sunday and Monday to ensure that uninvited people under age 65 were not vaccinated.
“But because there was no logistical way to determine which seniors were invited and which were not, DPH made the decision to vaccinate those seniors who showed up uninvited,” she said.
Saturday’s clinic vaccinated 2,360 individuals, Sunday’s vaccinated 3,410 persons and Monday’s likely will exceed 3,000, she said.
“In that sense, it was a very successful effort in vaccinating almost 9,000 Delawareans,” Fredel said. “That said, we know the process created confusion.”
She said the new registration system is designed to prevent this type of confusion in the future.
“DPH staff and other state agencies worked around the clock through the weekend to develop a registration system for vaccination events, so that individuals can be provided specific vaccination appointments,” she said. “That system will be available very soon. It is Delaware’s intent to conduct large vaccination events efficiently and safely without the chaos that has been seen in some other states.”
Bottom line, she said: “Please be assured that the experience of this weekend contributed to building a better system for all Delawareans to be vaccinated in the coming weeks and months.”