First State seniors are beginning to be vaccinated against the coronavirus. Roughly 500 Delawareans age 65 and older drove through the Delaware City DMV and received their first shot of the vaccine Friday.
The state entered phase 1B of its vaccine distribution plan Tuesday—and is prioritizing adults 65 and over with pre-existing medical conditions.
More than 80 percent of Delaware's COVID-related deaths have been among individuals age 65 or older.
85-year-old Asa Pieratt attended the drive-through vaccination event Friday. He said he wanted to get it over with “as soon as possible,” but he won’t be taking any risks, even after he’s vaccinated.
“No, I have to keep the precautions up,” he said. “It’s ruined my social life!”
Yvonne Harter, age 79, got vaccinated at the same event.
“I feel great,” she said. “I’ve been waiting on this. As soon as Dr. Fauci said get it, I said I’m gettin’ it.”
The drive-throughs are appointment only. An appointment request system for seniors went live Wednesday and got tens of thousands of sign-ups within hours. As of 4 p.m. Friday, the state had received 85,000 appointment requests from seniors.
The state offered 13,500 appointments for drive-through events Friday, Saturday and Sunday, including 2,000 appointments for health care personnel eligible under phase 1A.
Delawareans 65 and older — as well as frontline essential workers like teachers, police and poultry workers will be eligible for vaccination under the current phase. Correctional officers began getting the vaccine Friday, and teachers are set to get it starting next week.
The state does not currently have enough doses of the vaccine to cover everyone eligible in phase 1B. State public health officials have expressed frustration about the way the federal government allocates doses week to week, with little predictability.
“I’ll tell you, it’s a tapdance on the head of a pin,” said Associate State Medical Director Dr. Rick Pescatore at Friday’s vaccination event. “We are down to planning off of the last vial, ensuring that we have the exact number of doses ready to hit the exact number of people. To some extent it’s a little bit of a guessing game when it comes to how much vaccine we’re going to have for the next event in weeks to come.”
Those receiving the vaccine should continue to take precautions to prevent spread of the virus, even after being vaccinated. Necessary precautions include wearing face coverings, practicing social distancing, avoiding hosting or attending large gatherings, and washing and sanitizing hands frequently.