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State expects increase in vaccine allocation in coming weeks

Daniel Schludi / Unsplash

Delaware is still struggling with a shortage of coronavirus vaccine — but an end may be in sight. 

The state is postponing second doses of the COVID vaccine for some first responders due to short supply. 


The state confirmed Tuesday it postponed a vaccination event scheduled that day at the Dover DMV that would have given some first responders eligible under phase 1A of the state’s distribution plan their second doses of the vaccine. 


The state is prioritizing distributing first doses to high-risk populations — in an attempt to partially protect more people, rather than fully protect fewer.  


State public health director Dr. Karyl Rattay explained during a virtual town hall Tuesday the goal is to prevent deaths and hospitalizations.


“The science tells us that the first dose provides about 52 to 80 percent protection,” she said. 


Still, Robin Bryson, a DelDOT official acting as a spokesperson for the Division of Public Health, said Tuesday the state believes it needs to get high-risk health care workers second doses “as soon as possible.”


The state would need more than half a million doses of the vaccine to give everyone eligible under phase 1A and 1B two shots. But officials say the state has been receiving fewer than 20,000 doses per week


Gov. John Carney said during Tuesday’s town hall that more doses may finally be coming — after a call with the new Biden Administration. 


“The best news of the call was that each state will be receiving a 16 percent increase in their allotment over the next few weeks with some certainty around that,” he said. “For us, 16 percent increase is anywhere from 2,500 to 3,000 or a little bit more.”


Carney said the additional doses should help the state focus on its target populations —and cover the “demographic spread” needed.


Carney and Rattay said the state is hopeful additional vaccines, such as one being developed byJohnson & Johnson,are on the horizon. 


“In this period of time, which hopefully is just a few weeks, we are really, really, really limited in the amount of vaccine that we have,” Rattay said. “So what we’re trying to do is make the most of this vaccine to offer the most protection that we can for Delawareans.”


The state launched a partnership with Vault Health to get the vaccine to low-income communities and communities of color. The first of these events vaccinated 500 seniors in Wilmington Tuesday, Rattay said. 


“We’re really going to work closely with [Vault Health] to reach some of our communities of color and some of our low-income communities, where it can be harder to reach people and harder to get people engaged for vaccination,” Rattay said. 


The state plans to give thousands of additional seniors eligible under Phase 1B first doses of the vaccine this week, as well as 1,000 high-risk educators and school staff. 

As of Tuesday afternoon, the state’s online vaccine trackershowed the state had only around 30,000 doses left to administer. Carney said during Tuesday's town hall that after a weekend of large-scale drive-through vaccination events, the state had just 2,600 doses left in its warehouse, with “significant resupply coming.”


This story has been updated.


Sophia Schmidt is a Delaware native. She comes to Delaware Public Media from NPR’s Weekend Edition in Washington, DC, where she produced arts, politics, science and culture interviews. She previously wrote about education and environment for The Berkshire Eagle in Pittsfield, MA. She graduated from Williams College, where she studied environmental policy and biology, and covered environmental events and local renewable energy for the college paper.
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