MD Democrats Demand “Course Correction” On State’s COVID Vaccine Distribution
All nine Democrats in Maryland’s congressional delegation are calling on Gov. Larry Hogan to create a more centralized and equitable distribution process for the COVID-19 vaccine.
The members, led by Sen. Chris Van Hollen and Congressman Anthony G. Brown, sent a letter to the governor Wednesday, citing frustrations from constituents across the state who have been eligible but unable to get their vaccines.
“MDH has not released clear directions, nor created a streamlined process needed for Marylanders to actually get a vaccine,” the letter reads. “More often than not, eligible Marylanders are unable to set up appointments or have had their scheduled ones unexpectedly cancelled.”
Van Hollen said Maryland is lagging behind other states. Communities of color have been vaccinated at disproportionately lower rates.
“Maryland has been at the back of the pack,” Van Hollen said in an interview with WYPR. “For a while we were dead last...now we're 37. But we are not performing where we need to perform.”
Van Hollen said a discussion with acting health secretary Dennis Schrader led to more questions than answers.
“Constituents are very confused,” he said. “You have different distribution channels, and even within the same jurisdiction, they apply different criteria. There's no coordination among them as to how you sign up.”
Van Hollen noted that the state received $402.6 million in federal relief money in January for COVID-19 vaccination, testing, tracing and mitigation. He asked Hogan to issue a clear plan on how it will spend that money.
“We stand ready to help the state in any way. We are providing additional federal dollars, and we hope that they will deploy them in a smart way,” he said.
Sen Ben Cardin and Reps Steny Hoyer, Dutch Rupersberger, John Sarbanes, Kweisi Mfume, Jamie Raskin and David Trone also signed the letter.