Vaccine incentives, drop in new cases top topics at weekly Delaware Covid briefing

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Delaware needs another 17,000 residents vaccinated to meet the goal of having 70 percent of the adult population get at least one shot by July 4th.

The goal is from the Biden-Harris Administration and got the backing of long-time Biden ally Gov. John Carney.

Carney said he is optimistic the state can reach the 70 percent figure at the weekly coronavirus briefing. Delaware has administered more than 915,000 doses of vaccine. (See graphic below).

Carney conceded that the state has seen a marked drop in demand for vaccines and turned down allocations from the federal government.

At the same time, signs point to a flattening of the sharp decline in demand that came after those seeking the vaccine secured appointments for doses.

Delaware is securing additional Johnson & Johnson vaccines that had been allocated for other states. Some individuals, especially young people, prefer the convenience of the one-dose J&J vaccine to the two-shot Moderna and Pfizer/BioNTech offerings.

Upwards of 55 percent of Delaware’s population has received at least one dose, with eight in 10 of those over 65 receiving fully vaccinated. However, only 38 percent in the 18 to 34 age group are vaccinated.

Carney devoted a portion of the briefing talking about incentives for vaccinations, including one of his favorites, a free order of spaghetti and meatballs at Mrs. Robino’s in Wilmington with proof of vaccination.

He also explained the process doe drawing for prizes in the DEWins vaccine promotion. All people listed as vaccinated are assigned a number with no health record information, which goes to the Delaware Lottery, which only has a number.

The Delaware Division of Public Health then contacts winners and matches the number to the vaccinated individual. The Del VAX system, which records vaccinations, has no other health information.

The use of incentives for the vaccine has drawn criticism from some who believe that luring people with prizes is the wrong way to increase vaccinations.

Carney said vaccinations appear to be driving down new cases, with 2.2 percent of total tests coming in positive, well below the 5 percent threshold set by the World Health Organization.

New daily cases have dropped well below the state’s 100-a-daily goal of state officials.

State Emergency Management Director A.J. Schall said the focus will be on smaller events, including a weekend night vaccination in Dewey Beach, a popular spot with young adults with low vaccination rates.

He also reported that testing dropped sharply as the school year nears an end and the overall level of cases drop. Still, the testing level is sufficient to prove that case levels have declined sharply.

At present, demand isn’t sufficient for mass vaccinations, Schall said. In the early stages, the now-closed site at Dover International Speedway could vaccinate nearly 15,000 during one weekend.

State Public Health Director Dr. Karyl Rattay also warned against complacency. She noted that younger people could have longer-term impacts from Covid-19, including chronic fatigue and brain fog.

In many instances, Covid-19 can be no worse than the flu. However, young people have been subject to “long hauler” cases with effects of the virus lasting for months after the initial infection.

Rattay also addressed some of the myths surrounding Covid-19 vaccines that make their way into social media.

They include:

  1. The vaccine alters an individual’s DNA.
  2. The vaccine includes a microchip that provides information to the government or others.
  3. Vaccines causing fertility problems. Rattay noted that women who underwent vaccine trials have gone on to become pregnant.
  4. The vaccine affects changes during puberty.
  5. Individuals have to pay for vaccines. The Department of Public Health would like to know if such claims are made as part of scams.
Click here for more state data, including breakdowns by age, sex, race/ethnicity, at the statewide, county, and, in some cases, zip code or census tract level.

Below is a graphic from Big Local News. Laptop and desktop computer users can click on the headers below or maps for data on cases, fatalities, and vaccinations in Delaware and other states.

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