DOVER, Del. (AP) — Delaware officials are expanding the state’s COVID-19 vaccination program with a focus on underserved and minority communities.
Officials said Tuesday that they also are working to vaccinate hard-to-reach seniors who may have mobility issues or lack access to technology.
The Division of Public Health, for example, is partnering with the Wilmington Housing Authority this week to vaccinate senior citizens living in high-rise buildings.
Hospital systems and specialty care providers also are working with the state to vaccinate those 65 and older, including underserved populations.
As of Tuesday, officials had administered 107,597 COVID-19 vaccinations, but minority groups accounted for only about 7% of vaccinations for which racial and ethnic data were reported. For 30% of vaccinations, race and ethnic data have not been received.
Public Health Director Dr. Karyl Rattay noted that, nationwide, roughly half of reported vaccinations do not have race or ethnicity data.
“We are doing better than the nation with 30%; still this number is unacceptable for us,” she said.
“It’s new data for a lot of our private providers to put into vaccine forms. Nonetheless, we do want to drive that number down quickly,” Rattay added.
Democratic Gov. John Carney said he will announce steps later this week to ensure that enrolled vaccination providers promptly report race and other demographic information to public health officials.
“We need to have an equitable distribution,” Carney said, noting that some people have been hesitant to get the vaccine “for historical reasons.”
“We know we need to get over that,” he said.
Carney acknowledged, however, that many people have been reluctant to get the vaccine, including first responders and hospital workers.
“That's not really a good thing,” he said.
Delaware is in Phase 1B of its vaccination distribution program, meaning those 65 and older and certain frontline workers are eligible for vaccinations.
Officials said first responders previously vaccinated in Phase 1A will receive second doses in a series of events that began Monday and will continue at first-responder facilities around the state through Feb. 18. Phase 1A also includes staff and residents of long-term care facilities and emergency medical services agencies.
Meanwhile, hospitals will receive about 4,000 vaccine doses this week to administer to seniors and to their own Phase 1A health care workers. State education officials are coordinating efforts to vaccinate 1,200 teachers and school staff this week.