They said the biggest problem was the limited supply.
Gaithersburg, Md (KM) One of the major problems with administering the COVID-19 vaccine in Maryland is the limited supply. That was discussed on Tuesday during a webinar organized by 6th District Representative David Trone. “First of all, there’s simply not enough vaccines today,” he said. “The recent purchase by President Biden of another 200-million vaccines will help.”
Frederick County Health Officer Dr. Barbara Brookmyer said her biggest problem is not having enough doses on hand to administered to everyone who wants the vaccine. “People said why don’t we have a mass vaccination site. We have excess capacity with staff and locations and through put. We are not operating seven days a week. We just don’t have enough vaccine to do so,” she said.
Also, Dr. Brookmyer said the county limits the vaccine to front line health care workers, first responders, residents and staff in long term care facilities, and those 75 and older. Citizens between 65 and 74 are also eligible to receive the coronavirus shots. But within that category, only those who born in 1947 or before can get the vaccines.
Regarding the supply problem, Representative Trone said the new vaccine from Johnson and Johnson could help. “We expect that vaccine to receive approval this Thursday, and then final approval next week,” he said. “That will be in the roll out March 1st, the Johnson and Johnson vaccine.”
But one from Astra-Zeneca has not been approved by the Food and Drug Administration. . “We spoke with them. They’re hopeful. and got results. We don’t yet have approval,” Trone said
As for mass vaccination sites, Washington County Health Officer Earl Stoner says one could be coming to Western Maryland. “We have heard that there was going to a mass vaccination site being planned for Hagerstown. I believe that is set to roll out at the end of March. I think the target with that is 6,000 doses per day. I’ve received some limited information on that. That’s still in the sort of tentative planning stages,” he says.
Another problem brought up during the webinar was the inequality in the distribution of the vaccine when it comes to minorities. Stoner says his office is very sensitive to that, and is trying to reach out to those citizens. “Some of the money that we received from the state–which I think is federal pass-through money, actually–to really look at vaccinations. And we’re going to set aside some of that for a public relations campaign,” he says.
Montgomery County Health Office Dr. Travis Gayles says is agency is also sensitive to that. “On the flip side, there’s lots of pressure too,” he said. “I know we’ve received language from individuals threatening to sue us for looking at equity concerns within that. So these are just some of the realities that the health departments and what we’re facing in terms of being able to get doses and services out to people.”
The webinar featured Representative Trone, and the health officers of Frederick, Montgomery, Washington, Allegany and Garrett Counties.
By Kevin McManus