Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan says the state is issuing an order requiring nursing homes and long-term care facilities to publicly report vaccination data for all residents and staff on a weekly basis.
The data will posted online, as well as in each facility, to provide “full transparency” to families and the public, Hogan said.
Hogan made the announcement during a news conference at FutureCare Northpoint senior care facility in Baltimore. He took a brief tour of the facility, where 34 staff and residents were getting shots.
The governor said the push is part of his administration’s “No Arm Left Behind” campaign to continue the pace of vaccinations in harder-to-reach populations. The state is launching mobile vaccination teams to conduct additional clinics at nursing homes across the state, an effort that comes as vaccination efforts supported by a partnership between the federal government and retail pharmacies come to an end.
The new plan aims to ensure that “vaccines continue to be readily available to everyone who lives and works in our nursing homes,” Hogan said.
Nursing homes and assisted living facilities were “ground zero” in the fight against coronavirus in the early days of the pandemic, Hogan said Tuesday.
Staff and residents of nursing homes were later among the first people eligible late last year for the first doses of the COVID-19 vaccine. Hogan said vaccinations in nursing homes were critical to cutting outbreaks by more than 65% from a peak this past winter.
Still, there have been concerns specifically about nursing home staff who have remained hesitant about getting the shots.
Edwina Bell, director of nursing at St. Elizabeth Nursing Center in Baltimore, said “there was a good number of staff” who were agreeable to getting the vaccine during the first round of vaccinations carried out by the federal program.
“But there was a number who did not want it,” she added.
She said it was important for staff to see their peers getting vaccinated, “proving that demonstration can be the most powerful motivator.”
Bell said she participated in the first round in part because she has a parent in long-term care. “Our time apart over the past year has been hard on both of us,” she said. “Getting vaccinated is how I get back to him,” she said.
Under the federal program, three vaccination clinics were held at all 1,900 nursing homes and assisted living facilities across Maryland.
Leslie Ray, with Brookdale Senior Living, said one of the company’s facilities in Prince George’s County achieved a 99% vaccination rate among its residents and 93% vaccination rate among staff.
“Now, it was wasn’t always like that,” she said. “It took a while … our staff had concerns and questions and reservations.”
The facility noticed that residents were much less hesitant about the vaccine than staff, so they launched a campaign called “Ask your elders,” where nursing home residents talked about the reasons they got vaccinated as an encouragement to staff members.
- 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
Hogan: Maryland ‘way ahead’ of Biden goal
Overall, Maryland has administered more than 4.9 million COVID-19 vaccine shots, according to state data. About 85% of Marylanders 65 and older have received at least one shot, and 62% of all adult Marylanders have received at least one dose.
Given those numbers, Hogan said the state would easily meet a goal newly announced by President Joe Biden of administering at least one vaccine dose to 70% of all U.S. adults by the Fourth of July.
“We’ll be way ahead of that … Some states may have difficulty; we will not,” Hogan said.
In fact, the governor said his own goal is to “get things back to normal by Memorial Day, which is coming up very soon.”
Reacting to an announcement from the Baltimore Ravens that the football team was planning to have full capacity at M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore for games in the fall, Hogan said he thinks it’s a “great idea,” adding “We’d love to get a full stadium as soon as the season gets back.”
Hogan said he didn’t expect a Biden administration plan to reallocate doses away from states seeing lower demand for COVID-19 vaccines toward states with higher demand would have much of an impact on Maryland.
He said the state will continue requesting 100% of its expected allocation, but he didn’t anticipate asking for more.
“As we’re winding down and getting to the end of this, we’re going to have plenty of doses, and we’re going to be searching for no arm left behind,” Hogan said.
The governor also said the state is prepared to immediately expand eligibility for the vaccine to those ages 12-15 if the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approves the Pfizer vaccine for younger adolescents. Approval could come as early as next week.
“We’re completely ready and prepared for that and anxiously awaiting … As soon as that thing is approved, we’re going to be ramping up,” Hogan said.
The state estimates there are about 455,000 Marylanders between 12-15 who would be newly eligible under the expanded FDA approval.
“And we’ll be ready to proceed with them right away,” Hogan said.