Covid-19 Vaccine Update

Covid-19 Vaccine Update

Thanks to Delegate Vaughn Stewart for this information, which I cut and paste from his eblast yesterday.

How and when can I get vaccinated?

As of Monday, the state has moved to Phase 1C, which includes adults age 65-74 and some other essential workers. Last week, the state moved to Phase 1B, which includes residents who are 75 years and older, those in congregate facilities, educators, and child care providers.

Montgomery County has not kept up with the state’s phase progression, and will instead move to Phase 1B this week. However, the county’s progress only applies to the doses it administers through the county health department. Vaccines administered through hospitals and other health care providers are following the statewide timeline.

If you’re in Phase 1A, 1B, or 1C, here’s how you can get a vaccine sooner rather than later:

COUNTY CLINICS: The county had resisted moving from Phase 1A (health care workers, nursing homes, first responders) to Phase 1B. It is now pivoting to Phase 1b. If you’re in Phase 1B, you can pre-register with the county here. Check back on the county’s website this week for a pre-registration form for those in Phase 1C.

HOSPITALS: Hospitals are beginning public clinics. Suburban is prioritizing existing patients within the Hopkins system. If you have a Hopkins “My Chart” account, make sure it is active. If you are with Kaiser Permanente, make sure your kp.org account has the correct contact information. Holy Cross, Adventist, and Medstar have public clinics. Information is available on their websites and at covidvax.maryland.gov.

The Montgomery County hospitals are also working to set up a larger site staffed jointly by the different hospitals, so stay tuned. Hospital clinics generally follow state rules, not county policies. Even if Montgomery County remains behind, these clinics will serve 1B and 1C as well, prioritizing the 75+ population, as the state ordered.

GIANT: Giant is offering vaccines to the public starting today. Appointments can be made on their website: www.giantfood.com/covid-info. The pilot project locations are Georgetown Square, Kentlands, Burtonsville, and East-West Highway in Silver Spring. We expect each location will serve between 30-40 patients a day, so about 1,000 residents a week. They will take appointments for 1A, 1B, and 1C.

Why has the vaccine rollout so slow?

As you may know, Maryland has been one of the slowest states in the country for rolling out the vaccine. Assigning blame can be a fraught and unhelpful exercise, but many of you have reached out to ask where the bottlenecks are.

The truth is that everyone deserves a little blame. First, we suffered from a lack of a national plan. Without a national strategy, each state was left to develop its own system for prioritization and delivery. The state has given each jurisdiction flexibility to determine their own plan for vaccine allotment through the local health department. However, the state is also simultaneously distributing to entities outside of the health department that follow state rules (not the county rules). This bifurcated system has created significant confusion.

Second, the county-run vaccination clinics got off to such a slow start largely because the state over-allocated vaccine to the hospitals. At the beginning of last week, 208,000 leftover doses were sitting in hospital freezers. That’s nearly a third of all the doses received by the state. The state delivered the number of doses hospitals requested based on their staffing, but unfortunately hospitals only had a 30-50% uptake rate among their staff. Likewise, many in the 1A category the County Health Department is vaccinating (health care workers outside the hospital or long term care settings) are not making appointments for vaccination. Fortunately, last week, the state required the hospitals to begin distributing their extra 208,000 doses to the public, starting with people 75 and older.

Third, CVS and Walgreens have received almost 100,000 doses from the state for nursing homes and assisted living facilities. Unfortunately, these two companies have worked at a snail’s pace nationwide. Starting this week, Giant Food and Walmart will receive doses from our federal allocation to begin vaccinating the general public. The state is also in talks with Safeway and Rite Aid to do the same.

Amy Ginsburg

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