Local health departments across Maryland are getting a longer-term look at the number of COVID-19 vaccine doses they’ll be receiving over the next few weeks — a change that local health officials had long pressed for and that they say will make it easier to plan and set up vaccination clinics.
The four-week projections of vaccine doses came in a Feb. 12 bulletin sent to COVID-19 vaccine providers from the Maryland Department of Health.
But even as the projections offer greater visibility into vaccine doses, the projections show the doses that county health departments will be getting over the next month will not dramatically increase any time soon — even as counties in the D.C. area continue to face overwhelming demand for the shots.
Under the projections, the health department for Montgomery County, Maryland, the state’s most populous county, is set to receive 4,500 vaccine doses each week through March 8.
That’s the same number of doses the county health department received last week. However, it’s less than the 5,500 received the week before and only about half as much as the number the county received a month ago.
The number of weekly first doses provided to the county health department has declined as the state has shifted more doses to hospitals and retail pharmacies, such as Giant and Safeway, which is part of the state’s goal of creating a broad infrastructure of “all-of-the-above” vaccine providers dotted across the state. The projections in the bulletin do not include the number of doses sent to other providers in each county, only health department allocations.
Meanwhile, the health department for Prince George’s County, the state’s second most populous county, is set to receive 4,200 doses each week through March 8, according to the bulletin.
Baltimore County’s health department is set to receive the highest weekly allocation: 4,900 doses.
The Anne Arundel County Health Department will receive 3,400 weekly doses for the next four weeks; Howard County will receive 1,700 weekly doses; and Charles County will receive 1,100 doses.
(See the full count below)
The projections are based, in part, on data on incoming doses supplied by the federal government.
“We reserve the right to make changes based on what the federal administration provides Maryland,” stated the bulletin from Bryan Mroz, acting assistant secretary of the Maryland Department of Health.
Overall, a total of 31,500 vaccine doses are expected to be sent to local health departments each week, according to the projections. That’s about a third of the total doses of COVID-19 vaccines Maryland receives from the federal government on any given week. The other doses are sent to retail pharmacies and hospitals, but the projections do not include those doses.
In a letter last week to the leaders of the Maryland Association of Counties, acting Maryland Health Secretary Dennis Schrader said there were a total of 51 retail pharmacies across Maryland that had partnered with the state to provide vaccinations and that each location received 200 doses each week, which adds up to another 10,000 doses.
Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan announced the move to give local health departments more advance notice of doses during a news conference earlier in the week.
“Up until now, state health officials have had to wait until Thursday, Friday — sometimes even Saturday night — of each week to know what we could allocate to anyone for the following week,” Hogan said during the Feb. 11 news conference.
Last week, leaders from 22 of the state’s jurisdictions wrote to Hogan pressing more transparency about the distribution of vaccines and asking the state to share weekly projections of vaccine doses with the public and release them sooner.
“Providers need more advance notice to plan logistics, and the public deserves to know how many doses each local providers has available,” local officials wrote in the letter.
In response, Schrader, the acting health secretary, said the Hogan administration agreed “that it would be helpful for planning purposes to know what’s coming down the pipeline,” and said the bottleneck lay with the federal government, which only provided a week’s notice at most itself.
The new four-week projections were made possible because the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention had agreed to give states a two-week “look ahead,” Schrader said.
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What’s the timeline?
Word on the number of doses being sent to health departments comes as local leaders seek to smooth out an at-times rocky vaccination process.
In Prince George’s County, Executive Angela Alsobrooks pledged a series of fixes to speed up vaccinations in the county. While the county is home to the Six Flags mass vaccination clinic, the county has struggled to inoculate its own population.
As of Monday, about 47,000 residents had received their first shots — only about 5% of the county’s population.
In neighboring Montgomery County, which has seen overwhelming demand for appointments, more than 106,000 residents have received their first shots — more than 10% of the population.
Around the D.C. region, the focus generally remains on vaccinating the oldest and most vulnerable residents.
As for when the vaccines will be more widely available to members of the general public, officials in Montgomery County, for example, have been hesitant to provide a time frame given the continued low supply.
Last week, Montgomery County Executive Marc Elrich said given the county’s allocation of doses, it could take 10 more weeks to continue vaccinating residents 75 and older.
But one local health department is providing a bit more clarity on a possible timeline.
In a Feb. 14 update on its website, the Anne Arundel County Health Department laid out a loose timeline for the next phase of the vaccine rollout. According to the site, the Anne Arundel County Health Department expects to start vaccinations under Phase 1c in the March-April time frame. This includes people 65-74, immunocompromised patients in hospital-based treatment, grocery store workers and postal workers.
The county’s timeline anticipates moving into Phase 2 of the vaccine rollout in April or May. This phase includes adults under 65 with high-risk conditions and other types of essential workers, such as construction workers, bank tellers and members of the media.
Phase 3, which includes anyone 16 and older is anticipated to begin in either May or June.
Number of weekly doses to be sent to local Maryland health departments through the week of March 8
Population data was researched by WTOP using U.S. Census Bureau data and are 2019 estimates
- Allegany County Health Department — 500 doses (population: 70,416)
- Anne Arundel County Health Department — 3,400 doses (population: 579,234)
- Baltimore City Health Department — 2,000 doses (population: 593,490)
- Baltimore County Health Department — 4,900 doses (population: 827,370)
- Calvert County Health Department — 500 doses (population: 92,525)
- Caroline County Health Department — 300 doses (population: 33,406)
- Carroll County Health Department — 1,000 doses (population: 168,447)
- Cecil County Health Department — 900 doses (population: 102,855)
- Charles County Health Department — 1,100 doses (population: 159,428)
- Dorchester County Health Department — 300 doses (population: 32,138)
- Frederick County Health Department — 1,300 doses (population: 251,422)
- Garrett County Health Department — 300 doses (population: 29,235)
- Harford County Health Department — 1,400 doses (population: 252,222)
- Howard County Health Department —1,700 doses (population: 318,855)
- Kent County Health Department — 300 doses (population: 19,536)
- Montgomery County Health Department — 4,500 doses (population: (1,043,530)
- Prince George’s County Health Department — 4,200 doses (population: 908,670)
- Queen Anne’s County Health Department — 300 doses (population: 49,632)
- Somerset County Health Department — 300 doses (population: 25,616)
- St. Mary’s County Health Department — 800 doses (population: 113,510)
- Talbot County Health Department — 300 doses (population: 37,167)
- Washington County Health Department — 500 doses (population: 150,109)
- Wicomico County Health Department — 700 doses (population: 102,539)
- Worcester County Health Department — 300 doses (population: 51,765)
Total weekly vaccine doses sent to health departments — 31,500