Maryland has activated Phase 1b of its COVID-19 vaccine rollout.
Gov. Larry Hogan announced Thursday that the state can begin vaccinating those in the group — which include those age 75 and older, those in assisted-living facilities, K-12 teachers and education staff, and child care providers — starting Monday.
In addition, Phase 1c can start on Jan. 25. That group includes adults age 65-74; public health and safety workers not covered in Phase 1a; and essential workers in lab services, food/agriculture production, manufacturing, the Postal Service, public transit and grocery stores.
Hogan said the state is entering the most challenging phase of the COVID-19 pandemic, and the key is “testing and therapeutics” and the solution is “vigilance and vaccines.”
Since Phase 1a began in December, some 547,000 doses have been distributed to those administering the vaccine, which represent 99.6% of all the doses the state has received. These have been distributed at hospitals, county health departments and nursing homes. A total of 202,254 vaccine doses have been administered as of Thursday.
Also starting Monday, Maryland is directing all hospitals and county health departments to begin using their remaining doses by opening up Phase 1b clinics focused on the elderly.
“Our primary goal is for (vaccination providers) to get more shots into arms, the arms of more people in our vulnerable populations as quickly as they can,” Hogan said.
Some numbers Hogan highlighted during the news conference:
- 320,200 doses have been deployed to Maryland hospitals; 112,175 doses have been administered (about 35% of the supplies)
- Some 137,425 doses distributed to county health departments; the 24 jurisdictions have administered some 56,600 doses (about 41.2% of what was distributed)
- 61,425 of Maryland’s doses were sent directly from the federal government to CVS and Walgreens; the pharmacies have a federal contract to administer vaccines at several nursing homes in the state; CVS has completed 94% vaccinations at its nursing homes, and Walgreens has completed 76%.
Maryland is also launching a pilot program beginning Jan. 25 with Walmart and Giant to begin administering the vaccine at several of their pharmacies.
Hogan said the state receives 10,000 first doses per day from the federal government, and it is far outpacing that supply. On Thursday, the state reported 16,644 vaccinations, he said.
“We’re all looking forward to the day when we can take off and throw away the damn masks. And when we can get all of our children back in school, a time when we can go out for a big celebration and a crowded restaurant or bar with our family and friends,” Hogan said.
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Officials state importance of getting vaccinated
“I want to remind all Marylanders that getting vaccinated is the single most important thing that you can do right now, to save lives and to protect your friends and your family and your community,” Hogan said.
Getting vaccinated against COVID-19, Hogan said, is an “important part in returning to normal, ending the damage to our economy, and preventing more illnesses and deaths in our state, and eliminating and eradicating this pandemic once and for all.”
Lt. Gov. Boyd K. Rutherford echoed Hogan’s message, urging Marylanders who are eligible to get vaccinated.
“The fact is that no one knows how the virus may affect them. Whether it’s a little symptoms, a few symptoms, or an ICU stay. You won’t know until it happens. So I don’t know about you, but I’d rather not find out myself,” Rutherford said.
Maryland Department of Aging Secretary Rona Kramer said it’s important not just for seniors but all Marylanders to know that the vaccines are safe and effective.
“It’s crucial that you get information from trusted sources. So again, please visit the Department of Health website at covidvax.maryland.gov,” she said.
Kramer and Hogan asked that those who have family members who are eligible to get the vaccine to help them in getting the information they need, or help them plan to get vaccinated.
Kramer also said that there is no need for those 75 or older living in long-term care facilities to leave the facility in order to get vaccinated.
“The vaccines will come to you through the CVS or Walgreens vaccination teams,” Kramer said.
Hogan said what has been covered in the media of long lines of elderly people waiting to get the vaccines only to be told that they have ran out should “never happen.”
Expanding mental telehealth services
Rutherford has been leading a commission to study mental and behavioral health, and he announced a bill that will expand access to mental telehealth services.
Rutherford said the pandemic has had a profound impact on the lives of Marylanders struggling with mental and behavioral health disorders. Pandemic-related emergency orders have lifted several barriers to accessing telehealth services
“It’s become clear that we need to keep these programs permanent,” Rutherford said.
The proposals include expanding reimbursement for audio-only telehealth services, and allowing for health care providers licensed in other states to perform telehealth services for Maryland patients.