ANNAPOLIS, Md. (AP) — Maryland is setting aside more priority COVID-19 vaccine appointments for residents in communities around mass vaccination sites, Gov. Larry Hogan announced Monday, as lawmakers continued to press for improved equity in distribution.
Local officials in Baltimore and Prince George's have criticized the administration over inequities and requested priority appointments for residents at mass vaccination sites in their communities.
State Sen. James Rosapepe said Prince George’s remains behind the average of vaccinations for jurisdictions statewide, despite efforts by the state to do better. He asked Dennis Schrader, the acting state health secretary, to develop a specific plan to at least bring the county up to the statewide average.
“It’s ridiculous that the second-largest jurisdiction in the state, the jurisdiction in the state which had the most COVID infections, where we have some of the hottest spots in the state, is so far behind every place else,” Rosapepe, a Democrat who represents parts of Prince George’s and Anne Arundel counties, said.
Schrader noted steps the state is taking to raise vaccinations for county residents, and the state is “working on that every day.”
“We’re working very closely with Prince George’s,” Schrader said. “We’ve got a very good working relationship, and their team is working very hard,” Schrader said.
Last week, Hogan and Prince George’s County Executive Angela Alsobrooks announced Maryland would have at least 2,100 priority appointments per week for residents at the Six Flags America mass vaccination site in Prince George’s. Earlier this month, Alsobrooks noted that only about 10% of vaccines distributed at the Six Flags site went to residents of the county.
On Monday, the Hogan administration said the state will provide at least 2,100 appointments a week for Baltimore residents at the M&T Bank Stadium site in the city. That's in addition to the Baltimore Convention Center Field Hospital's focus on city residents in underserved zip codes, the administration announced.
The state also announced that Regency Furniture Stadium in southern Maryland will provide at least 2,100 priority appointments each week for residents of Charles, Calvert and St. Mary's counties.
The state says the appointments will be divided equitably by population.
The Wicomico Youth and Civic Center on the Eastern Shore will provide at least 2,100 for residents of Wicomico, Worcester, Somerset and Dorchester counties. The site is scheduled to open Thursday.
A site at the Hagerstown Premium Outlets in western Maryland will set aside 2,100 appointments a week for residents of Washington, Allegany, and Garrett counties. That site is set to open on March 25.
Meanwhile, the state health department announced it is expanding efforts to vaccinate the state's aging and vulnerable populations by delivering doses to them directly through their communities and existing health care providers.
The health department said 17 primary care practices in the state will each receive 100 doses of the Moderna vaccine this week to provide to their aging patients. The department said the initiative will serve as a pilot to test the idea of using primary care practices as points of delivery for older Marylanders and to validate the providers’ ability to more broadly distribute vaccines.
The health department and Rite Aid will partner with the Maryland Department of Disabilities this week and next to provide 600 doses of COVID-19 vaccine to Maryland residents with developmental disabilities in Baltimore, as well as in Prince George’s, Harford, and Baltimore counties. In the coming weeks, the program will increase its capacity to 800 doses per week and expand to additional regions, the department said.