Maryland lawmakers plan to receive vaccine distribution data among all 24 jurisdictions this week to assess how many are provided to health departments, pharmacies and other providers.
More importantly, if vaccines are allocated equally.
A Senate vaccine work group received a sneak peek Monday, Feb. 15 from at least jurisdictions during a weekly presentation from acting Health Secretary Dennis Schrader.
“How long will it take to get the rest of the jurisdictions?” said Sen. Clarence Lam, a Democrat who represents parts of Baltimore and Howard counties.
By the end of the week, Schrader said.
In the meantime, the senators received a two-week summary in Baltimore City and Prince George’s, Montgomery and Howard counties. Some of the breakdown Schrader said based on the needs of each jurisdiction are as follows:
• Montgomery County: 22,875 (11,375 to local hospitals; 9,000 to the health department; 2,000 pharmacies).
• Prince George’s County: 19,600 (7,300 health department; 3,900 local hospitals; 4,000 pharmacies; 3,400 Kaiser Permanente; 1,000 to mass vaccination site at Six Flags America).
• Baltimore City: 10,350 (4,000 health department; 3,050 local hospitals; 2,000 pharmacies; 1,300 federally qualified health center and health care provider).
• Howard County: 5,200 (3,400 health department; 1,200 pharmacies; 600 hospital).
The summary notes the number of vaccines distributed to each pharmacy and hospital. With the exception of the 1,000 vaccines from Pfizer at the Six Flags and 975 to Holy Cross hospitals in Silver Spring and Germantown, the rest came from Moderna.
Prince George’s accounts for the highest number of confirmed cases in the state, but with the lowest vaccine distribution of first doses at only 7 percent. The majority Black jurisdiction of 909,000 account for 15 percent of the state’s overall population.
“There are many Prince Georgians who want to get vaccines. What’s the problem?” said Sen. Jim Rosapepe, who resides in Prince George’s but also represents part of Anne Arundel County.
Schrader repeated what state officials have said that there continues to be some mistrust among Blacks and Latinos not willing to take the vaccine based on systematic disparities in health care and historical abuse among patients.
Schrader said people without identifications who arrive for vaccine appointments would not be turned away and must sign affidavits. He called it an “honor system” to not micromanage local health departments, hospitals and health care providers.
Although the vaccines come from the federal government, Schrader’s explanation didn’t sit well with Sen. Mary Washington (D-Baltimore City).
“You’re the health department, we’re the state,” she said to Schrader. “At the end of the day, we’re responsible for all of the vaccines that we get in the state of Maryland. Our approach to taking responsibility that the shots get into the right arms is a trust, but not verify.”
As of Monday, about 4 percent of the first vaccine doses went to Latinos who represent 11 percent of the state’s population. Blacks represent 31 percent of the population but only 15 percent doses received.
In comparison, whites account for 59 percent of the population and received 62 percent of the doses.
As of Monday, the state had administered almost 894,000 vaccines.
The state hopes a public outreach campaign called “GoVAX” with trusted voices such as community leaders, pastors and local celebrities help people in underserved communities to have no fear in taking the vaccine.
Del. Joseline Peña-Melnyk (D-District 21) of College Park, whose part of the grassroots campaign, said the message can be shared to where people live and shop. Peña-Melnyk received a vaccine as part of the CDC guidelines a “continuity of government” that includes all delegates and state senators.
“We have to go to the supermarkets. We must have mobile distribution,” said Peña-Melnyk, who’s Black and Latina. “We must have a more centralized distribution. As the supply increases, we should be able to do that.”