Officials in Montgomery County, Maryland are working to stop link sharing in order to prevent people from booking COVID-19 vaccination appointments before their turn.
County officials have been asking people not to share links for appointments to get a COVID-19 vaccination. Link sharing has led to people getting turned away and slowing down the process for those with valid appointments.
County Health Officer Dr. Travis Gayles said the state’s fix to stop the link from being shareable could come soon: “The state is intending to go live with that change this Friday,” he said.
The appointment links are generated by a state-run site, known as PrepMod, that the county is required by the state to use.
There are roughly 90,000 people in the next eligible group for COVID-19 vaccinations in Montgomery County, which includes those age 65 to 74. But it could be weeks before the county is ready to move to that group.
Dr. Earl Stoddard, director of the Montgomery County Office of Emergency Management and Homeland Security, reminded people: “There are also 100,000 or so essential workers as well, and so this next grouping that we are moving into could be very large.”
“Just because you are part of that next grouping does not mean there will be a vaccine ready for you the day that we begin vaccinating in those new tiers,” Stoddard said.
Officials also said they were going to be launching a mobile unit pilot program, possibly this weekend, that will help homebound seniors and those with medical conditions get their COVID-19 vaccinations.
“We’re trying to finalize that and, behind the scenes, where we would test out a mobile platform that would be able to go to and provide some vaccines to homebound seniors who are within their particular practice,” Gayles said.
He said the hope is to expand the program to get more people vaccinated against COVID-19.
“We hope to be able to identify some best practices that would allow us to scale that up and support that effort, as well as potentially set up some others that would be able to provide doses to that population,” Gayles said.
The county is also continuing a push for a mass vaccination site in the area.
County Executive Marc Elrich said on Wednesday that Montgomery County is the most populous in the state and has many of the cases, therefore it should have a mass vaccination site.
He said that the county has talked to the fairgrounds in Gaithersburg, as well as Metro, for possible locations, but there is no timeline or current plan from the state.
The mass vaccination sites are decided at the state level. Elrich said it’s needed because the closest mass vaccination site is at Six Flags America in Prince George’s County, which isn’t convenient for older Montgomery County residents or those without transportation.
If one is approved, Elrich said that the vaccine doses should not come out of the county’s supply. The county is currently getting 4,500 doses for the next couple of weeks.
“We need them to provide additional doses to run the site, and we’ve got to be allowed to continue to finish the target populations, like the 75-year-olds,” Elrich said. “The people who died the most from this are going to continue to be left out there waiting for vaccines.”
- Sign up for WTOP alerts
- Latest coronavirus test results in DC, Maryland and Virginia
- Coronavirus vaccine FAQ: What you need to know
- Latest vaccination numbers in DC, Maryland and Virginia
- DC Mayor Bowser’s sister dies of COVID-19 complications
- States pass their own virus aid, not waiting on Washington
- Northam to ease some COVID-19 restrictions in Va., details vaccination efforts