It involves working with these communities to set up clinics.
Annapolis, Md (KM) A plan to bring the COVID-19 vaccine to the underserved, hard-to-reach and vulnerable populations in Maryland has been launched. Governor Larry Hogan made that announcement on Thursday during his news conference in Annapolis.
He said his administration has made a lot of progress in getting shots out to Marylanders, noting that the state is nearing 1.5-million vaccinations against the coronavirus. “But just as importantly as making sure that shots go into arms quickly is that we work each and every day to insure fairness and equitable access to vaccines,” he said.
The task for carrying out the vaccine equity plan will be handled by Brigadier General Janeen Birckhead with the Maryland National Guard, whose also heads up the state’s Vaccine Equity Task Force. “What you need to know is that we’re committed to insuring access to the vaccine by reaching out to the community, faith-based organizations. And intentionality is our mantra,” she said. “We want to meet people where they are.”
Birckhead said the communities the Task Force is trying to reach are populations of over 65 years of age; populations with an annual income below $49,000; the unemployed; a population older that 25 without a high school diploma; minority composition of the community; single parent households; housing with more than one person per room; households without access to a vehicle; and the amount of population receiving at least the first dose.
She said these populations have difficulty accessing the COVID-19 vaccine. “Historic data shows that vulnerable, underserved and hard-to-reach communities face both structural and informational barriers to vaccine access,” says Brigadier General Birckhead.
The Vaccine Equity Task Force will contact community leaders and try to locate sites for vaccination clinics, according to Lieutenant Governor Boyd Rutherford. “Engaging with the pillars of our community across the state, including our faith-based communities, is the cornerstone of our strategy to allow us to reach those most vulnerable to make sure they don’t contract the disease, and possibly succumb to coronavirus,” he said.
Also at the news conference, Brigadier General Birckhead announced that the Task Force is working to bring mobile vaccination clinics to Western Maryland and the Eastern Shore.
By Kevin McManus