Long lines leading to the Six Flags mass vaccination site in Maryland persisted Saturday, even as police were out to control lines and manage traffic. The long lines appeared to stem not only from COVID-19 vaccine appointments, but also from the reopening of the park for the season.
Police announced on Twitter that traffic for COVID-19 vaccines should not enter the site using the Six Flags main entrance and should instead join the vaccine line beginning at Central Avenue westbound at Hall Road.
Multiple Marylanders who joined the caravan of cars leading to Six Flags Saturday told WTOP they waited more than two hours for their jab in the arm, but they praised police for keeping order in the long lines and members of the National Guard, vaccinators and site staff for their running of the site.
The more orderly process Saturday followed because of the extremely long lines from Friday and reports that some drivers were cutting the lines, leading police to intervene and try to control the situation.
Dave Kremnitzer, of Waldorf, said he and his wife had appointments scheduled for 1:45 p.m. Saturday. Based on the reports of long lines on Friday, he said they got to Six Flags at about 11:45 a.m. But because of the long line of cars, they didn’t end up getting their shots until 2:15 p.m.
Still, Kremnitzer said he didn’t see any cars trying to cut the lines — which he attributed to the large police presence helping moving things along.
“Today was very organized,” he told WTOP. “Everybody was very calm. Everybody was very upbeat. It was a very positive experience … Bottom line: Pack your patience.”
In addition to arriving to your appointment early, he also offered another piece of advice. “Make sure you take a comfort stop before you even get in line,” he said.
However, Charles Gischlar, Deputy Director of Media Relations for Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan said people arriving early for their appointments is actually contributing to the backup.
“We ask guests to remain patient and arrive within 15 minutes of their scheduled appointments,” Gischalr said. “All sites have ample supplies to accommodate all scheduled patients.”
There are porta-potties at the mass-vaccination site, but only once you reach the Six Flags parking lot. Depending on how long the line stretches to reach that point, you may be left waiting a while.
Andrea More told WTOP she waited even longer — nearly three hours in the car — for her husband, an essential government worker, to get his shot at the Six Flags site Saturday. But she told WTOP in an email, “Police did a very good job controlling traffic.”
She said they arrived at 10:45 a.m. for a shot scheduled for 11 a.m. She said her husband finally got his shot about 1:20 p.m.
Once the line finally made it into the Six Flags parking lot, “everything sped up a bit — guide staff and health care workers were very efficient, professional and polite,” More said in the email.
#RightNow: Frustration and impatience sets in at the Six Flags America vaccination site in #Bowie Maryland, many drivers cutting the 2+ mile line, some redirected by Prince George’s Co Police @PGPDNews #Chopper4 @nbcwashington @charlienbc #BreakingNews #CoronavirusPandemic pic.twitter.com/XmHYp9WWX6
— ʙʀᴀᴅ ꜰʀᴇɪᴛᴀꜱ (@Chopper4Brad) March 5, 2021
Regarding the traffic backups from Friday, in a statement to NBC Washington, the Maryland Department of Health encouraged residents to stop cutting in line. They said the vaccination site is a large logistical operation, and they are making daily adjustments to solve issues.
Some drivers even tried to cut the long line that stretched for more than a mile, with two cars getting into a fender-bender in one case.
Prince George’s County resident Mary Burgett told NBC Washington that she waited in line for two hours. She said she didn’t let anyone in front of her.
“There was somebody and it was like nobody was letting her in line and I wasn’t gracious enough either,” Burgett said. “If I can get my second vaccination someplace else, I will.”
The backup Friday was about 2 miles long, beginning on Church Road and extending west down Central Avenue into the parking lots on Friday, WTOP traffic reporter Dave Dildine said.
“The Six Flags mass vaccination site is currently serving 400 people an hour with a goal of 500 per hour. This is, of course, a large logistical operation and we are making daily adjustments to solve problems,” Maryland Department of Health spokesman Charles Gischlar said in a statement.
Traffic control measures for Saturday’s amusement park opening included personnel to direct traffic and signs. Gischlar said the state health department is working with the Department of Transportation and state and local law enforcement agencies.
As of Saturday, Maryland is averaging more than 50,000 shots in one day and has given more than 1.5 million shots to date, according to Hogan’s office.
WTOP’s Acacia James and Jack Moore contributed to this report.
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