Maryland is receiving its first shipment of Johnson & Johnson’s one-shot COVID-19 vaccine this week, which received federal emergency use authorization Saturday.
“This week we will receive 49,600 doses of J&J and we are distributing it across the board,” Maryland’s acting Health Secretary Dennis Schrader said during Monday’s weekly Senate Vaccine Oversight Workgroup meeting.
Although the nation’s third vaccine against COVID-19 is easier to store and ship than the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines and is administered in a single inoculation instead of a 2-shot regime, Schrader said it wouldn’t be targeted to any specific group of recipients or region of the state.
“The White House and the [Centers for Disease Control and Prevention] have asked us to spread these doses across,” Schrader said. “They don’t want us targeting specific populations, so we are honoring that request and spreading the doses across the various channels we have established.”
The senate panel was told that more than half the state’s initial shipment are being sent to two of the state’s mass vaccination sites — M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore and Regency Furniture Stadium in Charles County. Ten thousand doses are bound for local health departments and the remainder will be sent to hospitals and health centers.
But Schrader said the state would receive less robust shipments in the following two weeks after Johnson & Johnson pushes out its initial vaccine shipment.
When it comes to the vaccination program’s pace, Schrader said the state have tried extraordinary efforts to deliver the COVID-19 vaccine to Prince George’s County’s African American and Latino communities. However, its residents are still lagging in receiving the vaccine.
Of 25,000 doses administered at the mass vaccination site at Six Flags America in Bowie, 20,000 doses went to residents of Montgomery, Howard and Anne Arundel counties. Prince Georgians received just 3,500 shots at Six Flags.
The state’s newest effort to reach residents in the county is through texting.
Relying on residents’ names and cell phone numbers provided by the county health department, the Maryland National Guard is texting unvaccinated individuals and asking them to schedule appointments.
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