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This page offers all of Delaware Public Media's ongoing coverage of the COVID-19 outbreak and how it is affecting the First State. Check here regularly for the latest new and information.

First State receives first COVID-19 vaccine doses

Pfizer vaccine doses arrival at Bayhealth's Kent County campus

Delaware’s initial COVID-19 vaccine doses have arrived.

The FDA approved the Pfizer vaccine Friday, and an initial batch of 975 doses showed up at Bayhealth’s Kent County campus Monday.

Bayhealth plans to start administering doses to its staff Tuesday.   It will start with workers who come into the most frequent contact with COVID-19 patients.

“These vaccines will provide critical protection to our frontline workers whose lives are at risk every day due to COVID-19. I’m proud of how our team at Bayhealth has responded to this pandemic, especially as we take this first step to protect our entire community with the help of this vaccine in the months ahead," said Bayhealth President and CEO Terry Murphy in a statement.

State officials say Delaware is among the first states to get the vaccine and more is expected to arrive Wednesday.

Delaware pre-ordered just under 8,800 doses.

State Public Health Director Dr. Karyl Rattay says the vaccine is not mandatory, and it’s not quite clear how many Delawareans will need to get it before the state deems it safe enough to not wear masks in public.

“Nobody does have a magic number," said Rattay. "A lot of experts are saying you want to have a good 70 percent of your population be vaccinated to suggest you have heard immunity. But we don’t know. We have a lot to learn.”

In a statement, Gov. John Carney called the vaccine’s arrival “the first step in a process of getting back to our pre-pandemic normal.” but added it “does not mean we’re in the clear.”

Delaware’s plan for vaccine distribution starts with frontline health care workers, county EMS agencies and long-term care staff and residents.

Early next year, those working in high-risk and critical infrastructure industries such as food processing, utilities, education, police and fire will receive doses - along with people working and living in congregate settings like correctional facilities and homeless shelters, with certain underlying health conditions, and over age 65.

State Medical Director Dr. Rick Hong says conversations continue around late phase allocation of the virus.

“We also have an ethics advisory group to talk about the ethical principles related to equity regarding the distribution of vaccine," said Hong. "We’re very fortunate to have experts within the state to provide guidance on how to approach this.”

Moderate risk groups should get doses starting in March. It is expected to reach the general public by summer.

The vaccine is said to be 90 percent effective and is approved for people over the age of 16.  It does not contain a live virus and requires two doses spaced three weeks apart to be effective.

Side effects include soreness, fever and headaches.

The state is in the process of setting up a vaccine call center to answer questions about its vaccine

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