Prince George's CountyWilliam J. Ford

Maryland to Open Mass Vaccination Site at Six Flags in Prince George’s County

ANNAPOLIS — Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan announced Tuesday that the federal government will provide $219 million to the state to help with its coronavirus vaccine distribution.

With the additional funding from the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the state’s daily vaccine dosage should increase beyond 10,000.

Meanwhile, the state added “some severely immunocompromised Marylanders” such as cancer patients to the list of those eligible for a vaccine during the first phase of the rollout. That now increases those in that group to 2.1 million.

“It is simply an impossibility for all of them to immediately receive” the vaccine, Hogan said. “The plan truth is for at least the near future, we fully expect the demand for vaccines will continue to far exceed the supply that will be available to us.”

The state remains in the first phase of its three-part vaccination plan. The first phase is also divided into three parts:

Phase 1A: front-line health care and emergency workers and residents in nursing home.
Phase 1B: adults 75 and older, teachers, primary care physicians and residents and staffers in assisted-living and group homes.
Phase 1C: adults 65 and older, public safety and health workers not covered in phase 1A and other essential workers such as those at grocery stores and in postal service and public transit.

The state will open six mass vaccination sites starting Feb. 5 in two of the hardest-hit and majority-Black jurisdictions of Prince George’s County (Six Flags America in Upper Marlboro) and Baltimore City (Baltimore Convention Center).

M&T Bank Stadium in downtown Baltimore, home of the Baltimore Ravens football team, will be another site once the state can secure more vaccines.

Three other sites are set to open in other parts of the state.

Members of the Maryland National Guard that helped provide security at the U.S. Capitol earlier this month will work alongside state health officials to manage all six locations. They will accept patients by appointment only and based on the number of vaccines available.

Residents can travel from other jurisdictions to receive a vaccine.

Some county officials expressed frustration with not only the limited number of doses available, but also residents from other jurisdictions being able to schedule appointments.

During a Senate work group discussion Monday, Republican Sen. Adelaide Eckhardt from the Eastern Shore said non-residents have traveled to her district of four counties to receive a vaccine.

“My phone has been ringing off the hook with unhappy constituents because they can’t get an appointment locally and they don’t want people coming from other areas displacing them,” she said. “We have a high percentage of seniors and there’s no way we’re going to be able to get out of that [65 and older] tier to get down into that 65 and under [group].”

Hogan clarified that Tuesday, saying residents can take a COVID-19 test and receive a vaccination at any state site, but county and Baltimore City health departments can prohibit residents from outside their jurisdictions from receiving a vaccine.

Prince George’s County administered shots for non-county residents last week, but officials canceled at least 500 such appointments Monday and will designate most of those open spots for the county’s older adults and those working in the county.

Vaccinations will also be administered at some Safeway, Giant, Walmart and Rite Aid pharmacies throughout the state. The pharmacies follow state guidelines and allow residents 65 and older and essential workers.

So far, the state has received a total of 667,275 doses. Hogan said about 12.1 million will be needed to vaccinate all Marylanders.

“I know people are really sick of this virus,” he said. “We’re completely fed up and frustrated right now. I know exactly how you feel. We can’t fix all of these problems by ourselves. But I can assure you that we will keep doing everything that we possibly can to push the federal government for more vaccines. We will not rest until the vaccine is available to every Marylander who wants one.”

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William J. Ford – Washington Informer Staff Writer

I decided I wanted to become a better writer while attending Bowie State University and figured that writing for the school newspaper would help. I’m not sure how much it helped, but I enjoyed it so much I decided to keep on doing it, which I still thoroughly enjoy 20 years later. If I weren’t a journalist, I would coach youth basketball. Actually, I still play basketball, or at least try to play, once a week. My kryptonite is peanut butter. What makes me happy – seeing my son and two godchildren grow up. On the other hand, a bad call made by an official during a football or basketball game makes me throw up my hands and scream. Favorite foods include pancakes and scrambled eggs which I could eat 24-7. The strangest thing that’s ever happened to me, or more accurately the most painful, was when I was hit by a car on Lancaster Avenue in Philadelphia. If I had the power or money to change the world, I’d make sure everyone had three meals a day. And while I don’t have a motto or favorite quote, I continue to laugh which keeps me from driving myself crazy. You can reach me several ways: Twitter @jabariwill, Instagram will_iam.ford2281 or e-mail, wford@washingtoninformer.com

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