Delaware anticipates 8,775 doses of Pfizer's COVID-19 vaccine in the coming days

(Photo by ROBYN BECK/AFP via Getty Images)

Health officials in Delaware are preparing to begin a statewide vaccination effort after the Food and Drug Administration signed off on the Pfizer-BioNTech coronavirus vaccine Friday night. 

Delaware is expected to receive 8,775 doses of the highly effective vaccine within the next few days, according to health officials. Once the state secures its cache of shots, healthcare systems will immediately begin vaccinating their frontline employees. The vaccine, which needs to be stored at below-freezing temperatures, requires two shots spaced 3 weeks apart.

Like many states, Delaware is counting on a three-tiered system to vaccinate its population of more than 973,000. Due to a limited initial supply, the first phase will be split into two groups. The first group will include healthcare workers and nursing home residents and staff.

MORE: Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine's 1st impact could be in April, COVID possibly under control 'by end of next summer'

The second half of the first phase will include essential employees and emergency responders. People living in shared spaces, like prisons and homeless shelters, are included in the second half. Likewise, people 65 or older with health risks are likely to receive the vaccine, according to health officials. 

“The arrival of the Pfizer vaccine is welcome news after nine long months fighting COVID-19,” Governor John Carney said. “This vaccine will help protect our health care workers who are working day and night to care for the sick and save lives."

As more doses become available and other similar vaccines are federally approved, Delaware will widen its vaccination effort to include those with a moderate-risk of exposure. The division of health anticipates the second phase will begin in March, but they have not specified who will be included in this group.

By the summertime, Delaware expects to have a large enough stockpile for the general public to receive shots through healthcare providers and pharmacies. State officials do not anticipate making the vaccine mandatory, but they are strongly encouraging all residents to get it when they can. 

“The Pfizer vaccine has undergone rigorous testing through three clinical trials that involved approximately 40,000 individuals nationwide, including people of color, different ages and genders, and those with underlying health conditions, and the side effects have been minimal," Division of Public Health Director Karyl Rattay said.

The three-tiered vaccine plan currently does not include children 16 and younger, according to Delaware health officials. The Food and Drug Administration has not yet approved the vaccine for this young age group and more clinical trials are needed.

MORE: US says COVID-19 vaccine to start arriving in states Monday

"We are not in the clear yet. We are still in for a very difficult winter," Gov. Carney said. "Please wear a mask. It’s a simple sacrifice to protect hospital capacity until we can vaccinate enough people to crush this virus. Don’t gather with friends or family outside your immediate household. There is light at the end of the tunnel. Stay vigilant.”

Delaware recently tightened limits on indoor gatherings as the brutally cold weather has forced more outdoor activities inside. Restaurants and bars across the state are under a 10 p.m. curfew and a universal mask order is in effect.


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