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Delaware to expand vaccinations with focus on minority communities, hard-to-reach seniors

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Minorities have only gotten 6 percent of the vaccine that has been given out.
Minorities have only gotten 6 percent of the vaccine that has been given out.

 

Delaware will expand its COVID-19 vaccination program with a focus on vaccinating Delawareans in underserved, minority communities, the state announced Tuesday.

That’s partly because out of 107,597 vaccine shots (updated in Tuesday’s COVID-19 press conference) that have been delivered, only 5 percent of those vaccinated are Black and only 2 percent identify as Hispanic or Latino, the state’s vaccine tracker said. Race is not reported in 31 percent of the records.

State efforts to get more vaccine into minorities and others will include asking partners to focus on those groups and on seniors who many have mobility issues or may not have computers or smart phones.

“We are proud to have reached the mark of 100,000 doses delivered so far in our COVID-19 vaccination efforts. That’s about a tenth of our population who has reduced their risk already even before the second dose, since the first dose has 52% to 80% effectiveness,” said Dr. Karyl Rattay, director of the Division of Public Health in a press release.

 

“Our goal is to keep expanding the network of options for getting vaccinated, including finding ways to reach individuals and communities where large vaccination events are not a suitable option.”

The state also will continue to delay second doses, aiming to get as many as possible done within 42 days. Those who registered with the state and were invited to a mass vaccination will be notified by the state and invited to get a second shot.

The first shot, in essence, introduces the body to the virus and helps it recognize it, starting the process of raising antibodies. The second shot revs up the antibody-making process to strengthen immunity.

The state hopes to have second shots administered in 28 to 35 days, but it could be longer. Vaccine makers do not put a cap on when a second dose should come, Rattay said, but CDC has said it would be OK to wait up to 42 days to complete the cycle. That creates a balancing game as the state both tries to give second shots and get as many first shots as possible into people.

 

Vaccine administered by Feb. 2
Vaccine administered by Feb. 2

 

Rattay said Tuesday during the COVID-19 press conference that the ethnic groups getting the vaccine included: 41,799 (39% of the total) to non-hispanic whites; 25,120 (23% of the total) to other/multiple ethnicity; 4,909 (5% of total) to non-Hispanic Blacks;  2,243 (2% of total) to Hispanic/Latinos; 1,200 (1% of total) to Asian/Pacific Islanders; 32,326 to people whose ethnicity is unknown.

She and Gov. John Carney said that many among minority groups are hesitant to take vaccine shots for historical reasons, which include unethical tests being performed on blacks.

During the last two weeks, the state partnered with community organizations to invite hard-to-reach seniors to an event at Salesianum School and to an event at the Wilmington campus of Delaware Technical Community College hosted by Vault. This past weekend, the state reached out to seniors, including those in low-income communities, to provide them appointments to a vaccination event at the Chase Center in Wilmington.

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Now, the state says:

  • The Public Health Community Health Services unit will partner with the Wilmington Housing Authority to vaccinate 65+ Delawareans in senior high-rises as part of an effort to reach seniors who don’t have access to technology or who may have mobility challenges.
  • Enrolled pharmacies will receive an allocation of 4,000 doses this week, with a focus on pharmacies serving underserved communities.
  • Hospital systems and specialty care providers – including ChristianaCare, Beebe Healthcare, ENT & Allergy of Delaware, and Federally Qualified Health Centers – also are creating events in  to vaccinate 65+ Delawareans, including underserved populations.

Those eligible for vaccinations include Delawareans aged 65+ and certain frontline workers are eligible for vaccination.

“Our goal remains the same: we’re working to vaccinate as many Delawareans as possible, as quickly as possible,” said Gov. John Carney in the press release. “We also need to make sure we’re distributing the vaccine equitably and reaching especially those Delaware seniors who are less mobile and don’t have access to a computer or smartphone.”

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If you are 65 or older, you can put yourself on the state’s vaccination waiting list at vaccinerequest.delaware.gov or by calling DPH’s Vaccination Call Center at 1-833-643-1715.

But Rattay said during the Carney’s weekly COVID-19 press conference that many minorities are not registered on that system and urged them to do be.

“We would really like to see more folks on the registry but it also really is an important signal to us that we’ve got to find other ways to reach people in their communities,” Rattay said.

Also this week:

  • Second doses: First responders previously vaccinated by DPH will receive second doses in a series of events. The first was held Monday in Dover operated by Curative. Another six events will be held at first responder facilities around the state between Wednesday, Feb. 3, and Feb. 18.
  • Partner events: Curative will vaccinate about 2,000 individuals at indoor events from Tuesday through Friday in Dover. All appointments have already been filled. Vault Health will resume its vaccinations in Wilmington next week, and Curative appointments will be scheduled in Dover as well, with invitations made to individualson the waiting list.
  • Providers: Hospitals will receive about 4,000 doses this week to administer to 65+ Delawareans, as well as their own Phase 1A health care workers.
  • Educators: The Delaware Department of Education is coordinating vaccination for 1,200 educators and school staff this week.

If you are 65 or older, you can put yourself on the state’s vaccination waiting list at vaccinerequest.delaware.gov or by calling DPH’s Vaccination Call Center at 1-833-643-1715.

 

 

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