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State’s COVID-19 vaccination distribution will start with medical workers

Early in the federal distribution process, ‘We’re not going to get enough vaccine to vaccinate every Delawarean.’

The Delaware Division of Public Health has been working on a vaccine distribution plan for months, but must turn a final copy in to the CDC within 30 days.

Dr. Karyl Rattay, director of the division, said Tuesday that the plan has changed as new information has become available, but the first phase will be used to vaccinate medical and emergency services workers who are most likely to come in contact with people who have COVID-19.

After that, people older than 60 and those in long-term nursing facilities will probably be next in line, she said.

Early on in the federal distribution process, “We’re not going to get enough vaccine to vaccinate every Delawarean that wants a vaccine,” she said.

Both Rattay and Gov. John Carney said that no vaccine is expected soon. Carney said during his weekly coronavirus press conference Tuesday that Dr. Anthony Fauci had briefed state governors this week about all the difficulties in producing a safe vaccine. 

The federal Centers for Disease Control has issued some guidelines, which the Division of Public Health has, Carney said, but he did not say what they were.

Rattay said the state would have no problem turning in its distribution plan on time.

She said prioritizing vaccines was a big challenge when the state was coping with the H1N1 Swine Flu in 2009, and the state learned from that. That year, many schools closed early and colleges canceled exams to avoid the virus passing around students.

Rattay said the National Academy of Sciences also recently issued some guidelines about prioritization.

“This is really important that we get this as right as possible because it is going to be pretty limited amounts of vaccine that our state gets to start with,” Rattay said.

Some of the details that the state may have to deal with are changing, she said. She pointed to one promising vaccine that if successful would have had to be stored at a minus-80 degrees.

“Eventually, we’ll have adequate vaccine and we call this phase two of our plan,” Rattay said. “We’ll have adequate vaccine for every Delawarean, and so that’s a whole different approach to vaccination and all of that will evolve in the upcoming next six to nine months or so.”