Some Delaware residents received the long-awaited COVID-19 vaccine at a mass vaccination event over the weekend — despite not yet being eligible to receive the jab, according to state health officials.
On Saturday, at the mass vaccination event that was attended by state Gov. John Carney, some Delawareans who went to the drive-thru event at the Division of Motor Vehicles in Dover received the vaccine despite not being a health care worker or resident or staff of a long-term care facility, groups who are part of phase 1A of distribution and the only eligible to receive the jab at this time.
Those part of phase 1B — those who are 65 years of age or older and front-line workers — will likely be able to receive the jab in the state by the end of the month, per the Associated Press.
It’s not clear how many of those ineligible received the vaccine over the weekend, but reports of such occurrences prompted a response from Delaware House Speaker Pete Schwartzkopf.
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“We are still in Group 1a and the vaccines today were supposed to be given to health workers and first responders,” Schwartzkopf said in a Facebook post on Saturday.
“A few people went through and should have been challenged but weren’t primarily because the staff doing the vaccination is made up of volunteers and they didn’t have access to a database to verify that they were first responders,” Schwartzkopf added. “Others arrived and got vaccinated because friends … called them or posted online and told them to come get vaccinated because they had gotten theirs.”
“Toward the end of the day, first responders coming through had slowed down and a decision was made to try to get some people 65 years or older to come through,” Schwartzkopf said in the post.
“The organizers wanted to use all of the vaccine they had so they dipped down into group 1b and had Modern Maturity bring about 100 seniors over,” he wrote, referring to a senior community center in Dover.
Reports of those currently ineligible to receive the vaccine at the event over the weekend also led to a response from the Delaware Division of Public Health, which said that “protocols will be tightened” for the event that continues into Monday.
“Our colleagues at the Division of Public Health explain what happened at today’s vaccination event in Dover. The protocols will be tightened for Sunday’s and Monday’s events, and only those eligible for Phase 1A will be vaccinated,” health officials said in a statement posted to Facebook. “We appreciate everyone abiding by these protocols to help make sure our health care workers and EMS staff get vaccinated so we can transition soon to Phase 1B.”
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The news comes as the nation surpassed the 11 million mark in terms of COVID-19 shots administered late last week — still far less than half the doses distributed, however, and days after the Trump administration urged states to open coronavirus vaccine distribution to wider groups, including those 65 and older, in an effort to speed such efforts.
Of the more than 91,000 vaccines distributed in the state to date, some 31,090 have been administered, according to estimates from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
The Associated Press contributed to this report.