Since the first pre-ordered doses of the Pfizer BioNTech vaccine were delivered on Monday, Dec. 14, 750 vaccines have been administered to health care staff at the State’s six health systems and three sites of one long-term care organization. On Thursday, Delaware became one of the first states in the nation to offer vaccines to enrolled long-term health care workers. State officials strongly encourage people to get the vaccine as it becomes available to them under the vaccine’s phased rollout.
The 750 vaccines administered are current as of Friday at noon. The numbers of those vaccinated continue to change rapidly as more frontline workers receive the vaccine and not all reporting is completed in real-time. Up-to-date vaccine totals are expected to be posted at de.gov/healthycommunity in the coming days.
“Our frontline health care workers continue to lead by example, and I want to thank all of those Delawareans who rolled up their sleeves this week and received the vaccine,” said Governor Carney. “Your hard work and leadership will get us through this crisis. As our health care workers know, we continue to face a winter surge of COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations. Let’s all do our part, and do what works. Wear a mask. Don’t gather with friends or family outside your household. Stay vigilant.”
“We are so grateful to the health care community for embracing the arrival of this vaccine,” said DPH Director Dr. Karyl Rattay. “You are leading the way and demonstrating the importance of taking the vaccine to your friends, family and patients.”
Some of the first Delaware health care workers to receive the vaccine this first week were:
- Elisabeth Cote, a progressive care unit nurse at Bayhealth’s Kent County campus, was the first health care worker in Delaware to receive the vaccine.
- Sintia Rodriguez, a nurse at Beebe Healthcare’s emergency department and behavioral health unit, was the first health care worker in Sussex County to receive the vaccine.
- Kathleen Bonis, RRT, a respiratory therapist with ChristianaCare.
- Aaron Weaver, MD, a family practice doctor, was the first to receive the vaccine at Saint Francis Healthcare in New Castle County.
- Vickie Freeman BS, RN, CPN, Department of Pediatrics at Nemours duPont Hospital for Children.
- Joseph Kim, D.O., a primary care provider with TidalHealth Nanticoke
- Lisa Wullschleger, Advanced Practice Nurse from Porter State Service Center in Wilmington, Division of Public Health Clinic
- Warren Burke, executive director at Silver Lake Center, Genesis HealthCare in Dover, was the first long-term care staff member to receive the vaccine; Center Nursing Executive, Kerri Watson, RN, was the first at Genesis Milford Center to receive the vaccine.
DPH, which is coordinating the state’s vaccine distribution efforts, expects to receive an additional 2,925 doses of the Pfizer BioNTech vaccine next week, with additional supply being set aside through the federal long-term care/pharmacy program partnership.
DPH also is preparing for the expected U.S. Food & Drug Administration’s (FDA) approval of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine for Emergency Use Authorization (EUA). The FDA’s Vaccines and Related Biological Products Advisory Committee (VRBPAC) met on Thursday and voted to approve Moderna’s EUA request, which would allow vaccination for ages 18 and older. The FDA and the CDC’s Advisory Committee are also expected to vote Friday night and Saturday, respectively. Should they approve the request, DPH expects to receive 16,700 doses of the Moderna vaccine within days of the approval, which will go to hospitals, EMS, Health Centers such as La Red Medical Center, Westside Family Health and Henrietta Johnson Medical Center, DPH clinics, and others to continue to vaccinate staff.
The FDA and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) are advising women who are pregnant or breastfeeding, individuals who have experienced allergic reactions to other vaccines and those who have compromised immune systems to discuss the benefits and risks of taking the vaccine with their medical provider before receiving it.
The potential side effects from the vaccine are similar to those experienced by people who receive the flu shot: soreness at the injection site, fever, headaches, and body aches that usually go away within 24 hours. Unless symptoms worsen or linger, there is no need to seek medical care. Pfizer reported no serious side effects from the vaccine, and there were no deaths directly linked to the vaccine itself. The FDA and CDC will continue to monitor the COVID-19 vaccine for safety and effectiveness and any long-term or rare side effects.
DPH has set up a Vaccine Call Center at 302-672-6150. People who are deaf and hard of hearing should call 2-1-1 or text their ZIP code to 898-211. Individuals can email their questions concerning the vaccine to Vaccine@Delaware.gov and visit de.gov/covidvaccine for more information.