Maryland’s acting health secretary responds to county leaders’ request for vaccine transparency

Maryland Acting Health Secretary Dennis Schrader sent a response to county and municipal leaders who asked Gov. Larry Hogan for more transparency in the state’s vaccination allocation process.

In a letter to officials at the Maryland Association of Counties, Schrader said, “We urge every county leader to work with us cooperatively.” He also said that he looked forward to having “further productive discussions as vaccine production and allocation increases.”

On Monday, county executives and Baltimore Mayor Brandon Scott had asked in a letter for county health departments to get their allocation of vaccines first ahead of private outlets, such as pharmacies, or state sites.

In his response, Schrader said that some jurisdictions had asked for as many as 20,000 vaccines in a single week, “a request that would be impossible to fulfill given our allocation from the federal administration.”

Schrader also wrote that the state’s goal is to allocate each jurisdiction with its percentage of doses by population, “with adjustments for providers who are efficient at vaccine administration and who comply with the state’s vaccine priority directives.”

The county leaders had also asked for more information on the number of vaccines shipped to private providers. Schrader wrote that there are 51 retail pharmacy partner sites in Maryland, and that each gets approximately 200 doses each week.

When it comes to relaying information on vaccine allotments and projecting how many vaccines the counties can expect, Schrader said that, beginning this week, the federal government released a “two-week look ahead.”

“We agree with you that it would be helpful for planning purposes across all providers to know what is coming down the pipeline,” Schrader said.

He urged local leaders to streamline their guidelines, and he said that state health officials coordinate with local jurisdictions on a daily and ongoing basis with the goal of providing equal access to the COVID-19 vaccines in line with federal guidance.

Two mass vaccination sites opened last week — one in Baltimore and one in Prince George’s County. The Six Flags America site had previously been used as a coronavirus testing site.

Schrader said the Six Flags site had seen residents from 22 of 24 Maryland jurisdictions sign up for vaccinations since it opened.

On Tuesday, Montgomery County council members and Health Officer Dr. Travis Gayles asked Dr. Jinlene Chan, the state’s acting deputy health secretary, for a mass vaccination site in the county.

Chan told the council members that the state was open to establishing other mass vaccination sites in the state, but would not commit to saying one of those could be in Montgomery County.

On Wednesday, Lt. Gov. Boyd Rutherford mentioned that the state would be establishing more mass vaccination sites on Maryland’s Eastern Shore, in Western Maryland and in Southern Maryland, something Hogan announced last month.

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Looking for more information? D.C., Maryland and Virginia are each releasing more data every day. Visit their official sites here: Virginia | Maryland | D.C.

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Kate Ryan

As a member of the award-winning WTOP News, Kate is focused on state and local government. Her focus has always been on how decisions made in a council chamber or state house affect your house. She's also covered breaking news, education and more.

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