Delaware is now seeing 472 new COVID-19 cases per day, up nearly 100 per day since last week’s 389 on the same day, thanks to the Delta variant.
As Delaware’s case load continues to rise, the federal Food and Drug Administration vaccine advisory committee voted Friday for booster shots for people 65 and older and those at risk for severe illness if they get COVID-19.
In its weekly update, the Delaware Division of Public Health said all but one of the 244 samples that tested as a variant were identified as the Delta strain. The state lab each week randomly chooses positive tests to see what variants show up.
There have now been 127,222 positive cases among Delaware residents, the state said.
Of current cases, 259 individuals are hospitalized, an increase of seven from last week. Forty-two of the hospitalized persons are critically ill, an increase of four from last week.
A total of 1,913 Delawareans have died due to complications from COVID-19. Thirteen deaths were reported in the past week, five of which were from a review of vital statistics.
The FDA recommendation said people who need a booster of Pfizer vaccine should get it six months after they receive their second dose. The recommendation said health care workers and others at high risk for occupational exposure should get booster, too.
It did not define what it meant by high risk for several illness.
Those who took Moderna or Johnson & Johnson vaccines are not included in the recommendation because of a lack of available data.
The panel also refused to OK booster shots for everybody 16 and up, limited it to those 65 and older or with health issues.
“We are encouraged by this news and optimistic that a booster dose will increase protection for many Delawareans from severe COVID-19,” said Dr. Karyl Rattay, director of Public Health, in the press release.. “We know the Delta variant is particularly contagious and vaccination is really our best chance at protecting ourselves. We look forward to ACIP’s recommendations.”
When the situation is more defined, qualifying individuals who previously received two doses of Pfizer will be able to get a booster dose from a variety of places. They include participating medical providers, pharmacy or the DPH Standing Vaccine clinic at the Blue Hen Corporate Center, Georgetown Plaza, Canby Park in Wilmington or University Plaza in Newark.
Right now, Delawareans who have certain immunocompromising conditions including those who have received organ or stem cell transplants, are undergoing treatment for HIV or cancer, or who are taking medication that suppresses the immune system, are currently eligible to receive a third dose of either Pfizer or Moderna vaccines.
Public Health also is encouraging providers to consider whether those who reside in long-term care facilities and seniors, especially those who are over age 85, should receive a third dose.
On Friday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said 77.4% of Delawareans ages 18+ have received at least one dose of the vaccine. Among Delawareans 12+, 568,719 have received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, and 512,701 Delawareans are fully vaccinated.
Public Health said there have been 2,900 breakthrough cases of COVID-19, which equals six-tenths of 1% of vaccinated individuals. Of those 53 involved hospitalizations and 31 have died.
Betsy Price is a Wilmington freelance writer who has 40 years of experience, including 15 at The News Journal in Delaware.
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