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Baltimore Convention Center Vaccine Site Prioritizes City Residents, Schrader Says

The vaccination site at the Baltimore Convention Center is one of six mass vaccination sites run by the Maryland Department of Health.
Sarah Y. Kim
The vaccination site at the Baltimore Convention Center is one of six mass vaccination sites run by the Maryland Department of Health.

The Baltimore Convention Center, one of two state-run mass COVID-19 vaccination sites in the city, is prioritizing city residents, acting Maryland Health Secretary Dennis Schrader told WYPR’s Tom Hall Thursday.

“The M&T Bank Stadium is a mass vax site for the region,” Schrader said.

By contrast, the state Department of Health has asked the Convention Center to bring in “high percentages” of Baltimore City residents, particularly residents from “the more difficult zip codes,” he said.

“We are working with community organizations and individuals to call into the community and encourage people to get vaccinated from particularly the ZIP codes that have high minority populations that haven't had as much vaccination access,” Schrader said.

Gov. Larry Hogan previously said city residents would get at least 40% of the Convention Center’s vaccines each week, while M&T Bank Stadium would set aside at least 2,100 shots for city residents.

According to the Maryland Department of Health, 14.4% of the first doses administered at M&T Bank Stadium and 44.8% of the first doses administered at the Convention Center have gone to Baltimore City residents.

State data also show that about 12% of city residents are fully vaccinated, and another 21% have had one of two doses.

Currently, anyone at least 60 years old is eligible for vaccines, as are any adults included in the state’s “phase 1” because of their job or health condition. Beginning Tuesday, eligibility expands to include anyone at least 16 years old who has a disability or an underlying health condition that increases their risk for severe illness if they get COVID-19.

Hogan has said all residents at least 16 years old will be eligible for a vaccine no later than April 27.

Schrader said Thursday he is not worried that there will be long waits for vaccines once eligibility opens up.

“It’s our expectation that people that want to be vaccinated will be vaccinated,” he said. “Our larger problem is there's a 20% persuadable that we really got to get after, and in particular, where we have minorities and seniors who have not been vaccinated, we've got to pull those people in.”

Several recent polls have shown that the demographic group most hesitant to get the vaccine is Republican men.

Asked about a recent spike in COVID-19 cases in Maryland, Schrader said young people are driving the numbers.

The “good news,” he said, is that the state has vaccinated roughly 70% of people age 65 or older, who are more vulnerable to severe illness.

“But on the other hand, it's not good to have all our younger population seeing those numbers tick up, so we'll be paying very close attention,” Schrader said.

The statewide positivity rate among residents under age 35 is 4.85%. Among those over 35, it is 4.39%.

The state reported 1,382 new confirmed cases of the virus on Thursday, the highest daily total since early February.

Rachel Baye is a senior reporter and editor in WYPR's newsroom.
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