The State of Delaware is expecting to get doses of two of the three prospective COVID-19 vaccines by early December.
However, it’s likely that the vaccines will not be available to the mass public until March.
Gov. John Carney called the news the “light at the end of the tunnel” during Tuesday’s weekly COVID-19 press briefing.
“There is a light at the end of the tunnel,” said Dr. Karyl Rattay, director of the Division of Public Health. “We just have to be careful a little while longer.”
The first vaccine that is likely to receive emergency use authorization from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration is the Pfizer vaccine. It’s said to have a 95 percent rate of effectiveness.
Pfizer’s drug is said to have no serious side effects, but could have minor ones such as a sore arm, slight fever, nausea and body aches, much like the flu vaccine.
The two other vaccines trailing behind Pfizer’s readiness are from Moderna and Astrazeneca. The former also showing a near 95 percent effectiveness and minimal side effects.
An FDA committee will meet on Dec. 10 to discuss the Pfizer vaccine, and Rattay suggested that they might discuss the Moderna vaccine as well.
“They may approve it that day, and it is possible then that it may arrive in Delaware between Dec. 11 and 14,” Rattay said. “That’s the soonest we would have any vaccine.”
Rattay speculated that the state might get around 8,000 doses of the Pfizer vaccine and 7,000 for the Moderna vaccine that week.
A state ethics group has decided that the first group to get the vaccine will be front-line healthcare workers.
This does not only include doctors and nurses in the healthcare industry, but also anyone that could be in contact with coronavirus patients, such as EMS workers
“We will be ready when the vaccine gets to us,” Rattay said.
She also said that the state had been praised for being ahead of the curb in planning how to distribute a vaccine.
After the healthcare workers, Rattay says they have a priority list of who gets the vaccine before whom, because the stock of vaccine will be limited.
“We all wish it were tomorrow,” Rattay said, “but we’re anticipating that we’ll have adequate vaccine for the general population around March.”
Once the vaccine becomes widely available, people will be able to get vaccine in the same way that they get their flu vaccinations, she said.
It will come from their own doctors, from local pharmacies and likely even in large vaccination clinics sponsored by the state, as it does with flu shots.
“We’ll have some of those big vaccination clinics where we try to push through lots of people quickly so we can get as much vaccine as we can out there as quickly as possible,” Rattay said.
The state will be updating people about the state plans on its COVID-19 pages at de.gov/covidvaccine.