Officials in Montgomery County, Maryland, said the lack of a coordinated COVID-19 vaccine distribution from the federal government and policies from the state government are hampering vaccination efforts.
Montgomery County is in its first phase of its vaccination rollout plan, which includes health care workers, nursing home residents and staff, and first responders.
“In order to move to other phases, we need the doses,” Deputy Health Officer Dr. James Bridgers told reporters Monday.
Gov. Larry Hogan praised the county as one of the few Maryland counties that has used over 80% of the COVID-19 vaccines that it has received, “but there is so much out of our control,” said Montgomery County Council Vice President Gabe Albornoz.
“From the lack of a coordinated federal response on vaccine distribution to the differing approaches and policies from state to state and the ones that have been incurred in our state here in Maryland,” he said.
The county council said they are very much at the mercy of the state on the amount of doses they get and how much notice they get before receiving a shipment. The council said the county is notified of the amount of weekly doses it will receive on Saturday, and often those doses will show up Tuesday.
Bridgers said the county has received 12,900 doses as of Monday, and they are expected to give 100% out by Tuesday. They are administering about 1,500 to 2,000 doses per day.
“We are doing a remarkably good job, especially compared to other jurisdictions, of getting the vaccine into people’s arms within a reasonable time frame once we receive those vaccines. But clearly, we need more of them more quickly,” Albornoz said.
The county is still working through Phase 1a of its vaccination plan this week, and will use about half of this week’s 6,700 doses to vaccinate 3,000 members of the Montgomery County Fire and Rescue Service.
Phase 1b for the county will involve vaccinating people over the age of 75 and essential front-line workers.
Montgomery County will also receive its first shipment of second doses. Some 100 people will receive their booster vaccine this week.
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