DOVER — Ninety percent of Delaware’s new COVID-19 hospitalizations for the week of Jan. 10-16 occurred in individuals who have not received a booster dose of the vaccine. That’s 390 of 432, according to information released by the Delaware Division of Public Health on Friday.
For the same time frame, the most recently available dataset, 88.1% of new cases also were not boosted — 16,657 of 18,910. Only about 30% of Delawareans have received a booster, according to DPH statistics.
Boosters have been a point of emphasis for DPH during the state’s most recent surge. They were one of the focuses of a virtual event last week, “Real Talk” hosted by the Kent County Coalition for vaccine equity, which featured a panel of local doctors.
“It’s so important that we do everything we can to boost our immunity right now,” said DPH director Dr. Karyl Rattay during the panel. “Boosters really do provide great protection but many Delawareans have not gotten their booster. We’ve got to see those numbers go up.”
The “Real Talk” panel also featured Dr. Joan Coker, an otolaryngologist with ENT & Allergy of Delaware; Dr. Velma Scantlebury, the first female Black surgeon in the country to specialize in transplant surgery; Priscilla Mpasi, a pediatrician at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia; and Dr. Angela Saldarriaga, a family medicine specialist at ChristianaCare.
Subjects included the importance of vaccinations and masks to cut down the chance of transmission, the current surge thanks to the omicron variant and what the future could hold.
Dr. Coker said a clearer picture could be painted if the vaccination rates rise. In Delaware, 70.6% of the population have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine.
“The only thing we can be certain of is that there will be uncertainty,” Dr. Coker said. “So if we can control one part of this pandemic such as the vaccination piece, we might be able to give you real-time answers real quickly. But we can’t because everyone is all over the board. We’re putting a plane together in flight.”
“If we would just get a little closer to immunity among the public, then we might be able to say since everyone is vaccinated, if you get exposed but are asymptomatic, go to work, go to school, no big deal,” Dr. Coker added. “But we can’t do that because this one is vaccinated but that one isn’t; Grandma is but the teenagers aren’t; Mom is but Dad isn’t.”
With the omicron variant eight times more transmissible than the delta variant, the five doctors stressed for Delawareans to not let their guard down while taking the proper precautions.
Omicron has become the dominant variant in the state as it represented 94.5% of samples sequenced at the DPH lab last week during routine surveillance for variants. The remaining 5.5% of sequenced cases were identified as delta, DPH said.
A list of vaccination sites is available here. The state is asking Delawareans not to go to hospital emergency departments for COVID-19 testing to help with the volume of ER visits. A list of testing sites can be found here and here.