Teachers, child-care workers, people 75 and older, and members of various high-risk groups will become eligible to receive a COVID-19 vaccine as of Monday, Gov. Lawrence J. Hogan Jr. (R) announced.
In expanding from Phase 1A into Phase 1B of the state’s vaccination campaign, an additional 860,000 people will be allowed access to the vaccine, according to the Maryland Department of Health’s website.
But Hogan, speaking at a news conference Thursday evening, cautioned that Maryland is currently using more doses each day than it is receiving from the federal government — and unless the flow increases soon, the state will run out.
“On Monday, Jan. 18, eligible groups will be expanded statewide to include all Marylanders 75 and over, as well as anyone of any age, living in assisted living or independent living facilities, and developmental disabilities and behavioral health group homes,” he said.
In addition to K-12 teachers, support staff and child-care providers, Phase 1B includes high-risk incarcerated individuals and elected officials.
Under state activation of Part B of the federal government’s contract with CVS and Walgreens, residents of assisted living and all other long-term care facilities will be able to get vaccinated by those pharmacies, Hogan said.
The state is setting up a new website, covidvax.maryland.gov, where people can get information about vaccination opportunities in their communities and sign up. Vaccinations will be by appointment only.
As of Thursday, Maryland had vaccinated 2.95 of every 100 residents, a rate below neighboring Delaware (3.18%), Pennsylvania (3.01%), D.C. (4.68%) and West Virginia (6.54%), according to a Bloomberg tracking site.
Maryland has used approximately a third of the 547,000 doses it has received. Only ten states and Puerto Rico have made use of a smaller percentage of its on-hand supply.
To help boost the state’s efforts, Hogan announced a pilot program at 10 Wal-Marts and 22 Giant supermarkets to administer vaccines beginning on Jan. 25.
Hogan said the state’s rollout has been hampered by logistical hurdles and a refusal by some nursing home residents and others to get vaccinated. He said that no doses will go to waste.
He and Rona Kramer, Maryland’s Secretary of Aging, stressed that the vaccines have been thoroughly vetted and are safe and effective. People with older relatives or friends were urged to help them locate a vaccination clinic in their area.
“There is no need for anyone in a long-term care facility to leave the facility in order to obtain the vaccine,” she said. “The vaccines will come to you through the CVS or Walgreens’ vaccination teams.”
Although Maryland is preparing to expand into Phase 1B of its vaccination campaign, efforts to reach people in Phase 1A — health-care workers, first responders, nursing home residents and staff, and others deemed at risk — will continue, Hogan said.
The state will continue to assist in any way possible, he added, and he again urged residents to be patient.
“The number of people just in Phase 1 of our plan is 1.5 million people, and they need two doses, so that’s three million doses,” he said. “This is going to take a long time, a great deal of patience and a lot more vaccines.”
By Bruce DePuyt