As Delaware nears its Fourth of July goal of having at least 70% of those eligible have at least one vaccine shot, state officials on Tuesday unveiled guidance for colleges and universities and illustrated the danger that COVID-19 poses to adolescence.
During the state’s weekly COVID-19 press briefing, Gov. John Carney said the state is nearing the vaccine goal set by President Biden with 67.5% of those 18 and older having at least one shot.
That means only 2.5% more of the population by July 4 to succeed.
But it’s going to be a hard-won victory, as demand for the shots has fallen off. With 92% of those 65 and older having received at least one shot, only one-third of those in the 18-45 age group have received a dose.
The state has been increasingly focused on pumping these numbers up with its DE Wins initiative, a weekly raffle with numerous prizes for those that have been vaccinated. The state has also partnered with local businesses in offering discounts to those with vaccine cards.
The state also has dropped mass vaccinations in favor of targeting smaller venues where people are already heading, such as alfresco dining nights or community events.
Officials said during a recent press conference that the state needed to vaccinate 5,000 people a week to reach their goal. But officials have not answered questions about whether they really are vaccinating 5,000 people a week.
The numbers are trickling up. At a recent vaccination event at the Starboard in Dewey Beach, a free orange crush was offered to those who got vaccinated at the event, but only 37 said yes.
Dr. Karyl Rattay, director of the Division of Public Health, said that hospitalizations across the country are showing why it’s so important to have youths vaccinated. In a CDC analysis of 204 adolescent hospitalizations in March and April, one third required ICU admission and 5% required a ventilator. She said 75% of this group had some kind of underlying condition.
Adolescent hospitalizations this year have been three times higher than hospitalizations related to the flu for the last three years.
Rattay also said the CDC has announced that a full vaccination of Moderna or Pfizer is 91% effective at reducing the risk of infection and 81% effective for those partially vaccinated.
Those fully or partially vaccinated who do contract coronavirus have a 60% less chance of developing symptoms, 40% less likely to give the virus to someone else and will have on average six fewer sick days and two fewer days in bed.
Rattay announced said the CDC has said higher education institutions that require all students and staff to be vaccinated are fully ably to return to 100% capacity and in-person learning without masking or social distancing.
If vaccines are not required, the CDC recommends those institutions require masking, social distancing and maintaining healthy environments with good ventilation and constant cleaning.
The CDC also recommends that these institutions offer their students and staff vaccination and testing opportunities as well as some kind of contact tracing method.
Both Delaware State University and the University of Delaware will require students to be fully vaccinated to return to campus in the fall.
Delaware Tech will not be requiring vaccination and will offer many of its classes through a hybrid format during the fall semester and its socially distanced classes will have capacity limitations.
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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