Maryland Vaccinations Continue At Slow Pace
Maryland is continuing to face COVID-19 vaccine shortages and distribution challenges, despite entering a new phase of vaccinations this week.
In a grim overview of the state’s rollout Tuesday, Gov. Larry Hogan said the federal government has allocated Maryland about 10,000 doses per day. There are about 2 million residents who are currently eligible to receive vaccines.
“So it goes without saying, it is simply an impossibility for all of them to immediately receive it,” Hogan said at a press conference.
Hogan said a pledge by the Biden administration to increase vaccine supply, still won’t meet the immediate demand.
“The plain truth is that for at least the near future, we fully expect that demand for vaccines will continue to far exceed the supply that will be available to us,” he said.
As of Tuesday, Maryland vaccine providers had administered nearly 400,000 doses. The overwhelming majority of those are first doses.
Ultimately, the state will require 12 million doses to vaccinate all residents. Hogan says the state has only been allocated 5.8% of that amount.
“As frustrating as this is for every single one of us, this will obviously be a much longer process than any of us would like,” Hogan said. “And it's going to require a great deal of patience for many months.”
Amid concerns about a lack of a centralized vaccination approach in Maryland, Hogan also announced Tuesday the creation of at least six new state-run mass vaccination sites.
The state health department and the National Guard will oversee those sites. Health Secretary Dennis Schrader said the state is still finalizing locations.
“We're considering our many community's unique needs and ensuring that Marylanders have equitable access to vaccines,” Schrader said.
The state has nailed down two sites, the Baltimore Convention Center and Six Flags America in Prince George’s County, both of which will open no later than next Friday.
Hogan also announced that there will be more vaccination locations in pharmacies across the state.
Despite vaccine shortages, Maryland has been in Phase 1C of vaccinations since Monday.That opens vaccinations to all residents aged 65 and older. Residents in earlier phases are still eligible for the vaccine.
Eligible Maryland residents who want to be vaccinated need to make an appointment.
Dr. David Marcozzi, COVID-19 Incident Commander for the University of Maryland Medical System, expressed his frustrations with the slow rollout at Hogan’s press conference.
“I am impatient,” Marcozzi said. “Perhaps that helps me in an emergency department, but it is a frustration when I'm waiting for vaccines for our state. Expanding the 1C category and addressing healthcare disparities does not, unfortunately, rectify the issue: that limited vaccine will be our unfortunate present day situation.”
He also stressed the disproportionate impact of the pandemic on people of color, who also have had more difficulty accessing vaccines.
Marcozzi urged residents to continue following COVID safety guidelines, and to get the vaccine if they’re eligible.
“Vaccines work,” he said. “They're safe and are a wonderful tool to protect us all.”
He added that the vaccine works against the new and more transmissible UK variant, which has been detected in Maryland. Marcozzi said that by March, the new variant may be the predominant strain in the U.S.