Brig. Gen. Janeen Birckhead of the Maryland National Guard speaks at a March 4 press briefing in Annapolis as Gov. Larry Hogan (right) and Lt. Gov. Boyd Rutherford listen. (William J. Ford/The Washington Informer)
Brig. Gen. Janeen Birckhead of the Maryland National Guard speaks at a March 4 press briefing in Annapolis as Gov. Larry Hogan (right) and Lt. Gov. Boyd Rutherford listen. (William J. Ford/The Washington Informer)

ANNAPOLIS — Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan announced Thursday what he called the nation’s first coronavirus vaccine distribution plan to focus solely on equity in underserved communities.

The goal will be to partner with nonprofit organizations, faith-based community groups and others to ensure vaccines are administered.

Some coordination has been done in places such as Prince George’s County and Baltimore City, two majority-Black jurisdictions where officials stressed limited vaccines.

“My hope is that we get more vaccine so it could 100%,” said Brig. Gen. Janeen Birckhead of the Maryland National Guard, who will help lead the statewide effort. “We can get together with partners and address that immediately.”

The statewide initiative will go through a seven-step process for community leaders to submit a proposal to open a vaccine clinic in a particular area.

Members of a statewide equity task force, along with Birckhead and Lt. Gov. Boyd Rutherford, will analyze each proposal for distribution disparities, lack of transportation and other data.

“It is not a one-size-fits-all” approach, Birckhead said.

Prince George’s County Executive Angela Alsobrooks gives an update on the county’s coronavirus response during a March 4 press conference at the county’s Emergency Operations Center as George Askew, Prince George’s deputy chief administrative officer for health, human services and education, stands nearby. (William J. Ford/The Washington Informer)

A vaccination clinic will open at First Baptist Church of Glenarden in Upper Marlboro, the biggest church in Prince George’s and one of the largest in the D.C. area.

If a person receives either the Moderna or Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine, both of which require two doses, a second appointment will be scheduled before a person leaves the center, Birckhead said.

A one-dose vaccine developed by Johnson & Johnson was also recently approved by the Food and Drug Administration for emergency use. Maryland is set to receive nearly 50,000 doses of that vaccine this week.

The church will partner with the University of Maryland Medical System, which said in a statement that the clinic will open on March 16. The goal will be to administer up to 900 doses per day.

More information such as registration and operation hours will be made available at

Meanwhile, County Executive Angela Alsobrooks held a press briefing Thursday morning with suggestions for the state on equitable distribution of vaccines.

County residents have received only 11% of the vaccinations administered at the mass vaccination site at Six Flags America in Upper Marlboro, Alsobrooks said either that number should be no less than 50% or certain days should be designated for only Prince George’s residents at the site.

According to state figures announced Monday by acting Health Secretary Dennis Schrader, about 20,000 of 25,000 doses administered at the Six Flags site went to residents from Anne Arundel, Howard and Montgomery counties. With the exception of the county health department, there’s no residency requirement at state-managed sites, including pharmacies.

Alsobrooks said the state should also create a vaccination site at the University of Maryland in College Park for nearby zip codes such as 20783 in the Hyattsville area, which is home to thousands of Latinos. That area has the state’s most confirmed coronavirus cases with 5,123.

“This could help us tremendously,” Alsobrooks said. “We just want the equity.”

When asked later at the Thursday press conference in Annapolis about Alsobrooks’ request, Hogan said the state will continue to work with county officials on vaccine distribution.

“I think we gave 3,600 [doses] at Six Flags yesterday,” he said. “[Prince George’s] health department has seen a dramatic improvement. We are going to continue to work with them.”

Coverage for the Washington Informer includes Prince George’s County government, school system and some state of Maryland government. Received an award in 2019 from the D.C. Chapter of the Society of...

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *