Improvements coming after a few hiccups at weekend vaccination event

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Upset and angry Delawareans – some who had appointments, and who were in the middle of it all, got so frustrated they left without even getting their vaccine shots.

NEW CASTLE (DE) 01/24/21: Improvements are underway after a few hiccups at Delaware’s mass COVID-19 vaccination events – mostly caused by Delawareans themselves officials say.

As thousands of people lined up at the Delaware City DMV to get a COVID-19 vaccine shot, traffic backed up at surrounding approaches such as Route 72 and Route 1, causing major gridlocks and delays for most of the day.

Photo by George Shea For Delaware Newsline

Upset and angry Delawareans – some who had appointments, and who were in the middle of it all, got so frustrated they left without even getting their vaccine shots.

Health officials say they had to make adjustments to to the drive-through vaccination process after identifying a number of factors that led to slow lines and stacked-up traffic on Saturday., according to a news release.

“Delays were caused by people arriving without an appointment, those with appointments not completing their pre-vaccination screening online before arriving, and technology issues resulting from the cold temperatures.,” Said Andrea Wojcik, Section Chief for the Delaware Division of Public Health.

Officials say after identifying the issues, several process and traffic improvements were implemented on Sunday that included:

  • A separate area in Delaware City and separate lane in Georgetown for Phase 1A health care workers, who had not been registered through the online system and thus took longer to process.
  • Additional laptops and IT personnel at the Delaware City site, along with generators to keep laptops and wi-fi systems charged. Georgetown switched to a paper-based system for Sunday, and manual data entry will be used to enter the information into the state’s immunization system.
  • So as not to start the day with a backlog, Georgetown began vaccinations at 8:30 a.m. instead of 10 a.m. to accommodate individuals who arrived hours before their appointment time.
  • State troopers were added in both locations to assist with traffic flow.
  • An email was sent early Sunday morning to individuals with Sunday appointments with instructions for completing the pre-registration forms. Staff and volunteers reported higher pre-registration completion rate Sunday, which sped up the process on site, requiring fewer lanes in Delaware City devoted to those with incomplete screening.

By 1 p.m., wait times were reported at approximately one hour in Delaware City and as low as 15 minutes in Georgetown, with traffic largely cleared from surrounding roads and highways at both locations. All vaccinations were completed Sunday by 4:45 p.m., officials said.

“The issues Saturday were not what we planned, not what we wanted to see, and certainly not what we wanted our residents to experience. Our hardworking volunteers and staff stayed more than 3 hours later than scheduled Saturday to vaccinate all those with appointments, and then the DPH team and our partners worked into the night to identify the issues and take steps to improve things for Sunday,” said DPH Director Dr. Karyl Rattay. “Sunday went much more smoothly and was more the event we intended to have. It was a learning experience and, most importantly, we extended the first dose of vaccine protection to more than 11,000 Delawareans.”

THANKS TO THOSE WHO MADE THE EVENT POPSSIBLE

Dr. Rattay recognized and thanked the agencies and organizations that participated in the events with DPH, including:

Rattay said vaccination opportunities will expand beyond large vaccination events at DMV locations to smaller events focused on communities around the state. The state is also expanding the number of pharmacy and primary care providers who are able to offer vaccinations.

Additional information about COVID-19 vaccine rollout is available at de.gov/covidvaccine. Questions can be directed to the Vaccine Call Center at 1-833-643-1715. People who are deaf or hard of hearing should call 2-1-1 or text their ZIP code to 898-211. Individuals can email their questions concerning the vaccine to Vaccine@Delaware.gov.

The state has vaccinated more than 21,000 people over the past 8 days. As of midnight, Saturday, Jan. 23, 67,475 administered doses of the COVID-19 vaccine have been reported to the state’s immunization information system.

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Delaware Newsline is a digital Delaware News Organization that provides local and national breaking news content to its Delaware and U.S. audience, by utilizing multiple platforms including web, social media, and video.

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