Thanks to an agreement between the state of Maryland and Prince George’s County, at least 2,100 more COVID-19 vaccines will be allocated to the majority-Black jurisdiction.
But state Sen. Jim Rosapepe, who resides in Prince George’s and represents a portion of Anne Arundel County, said it will be harder for Blacks, Latinos and others in underserved communities to receive vaccines. His conclusion comes from a recommendation from President Joe Biden for states to make vaccines available to the general public by May 1.
“We’re going from a period of scarcity to a period of abundance and we need a plan to show that,” Rosapepe said from his car March 15 during a weekly briefing with a Senate oversight work group. “We’re only six weeks away. If we don’t get our [expletive] together now, we’re not going to get our [expletive] together later.”
Acting Health Secretary Dennis Schrader said officials continue to work on a plan “in preparing for this moment.”
He touted how the state administered nearly two million vaccines in 14 weeks. The figure will increase once additional doses from Moderna, Pfizer and Johnson & Johnson arrive. But distribution among jurisdictions remains a concern.
According to state data highlighted Monday, Prince George’s continues to lead the state in confirmed cases at nearly 75,500. However, nearly 13 percent of the county’s population have received at least a first dose of the vaccine. In comparison, Howard County nearly doubles Prince George’s with one of the highest percentages of people vaccinated with a first dose in the state at 24 percent. The county also doesn’t house a mass vaccination site.
In addition to mass vaccination clinics at local churches and hospitals, Prince George’s opened a vaccination clinic Monday at Cedar Heights Community Center in Seat Pleasant. Another opened at Kentland Community Center in Landover. Both were established to replace the Wayne K. Curry Sports and Learning Center in Landover which will be closed through March 28 for maintenance.
Meanwhile, County Executive Angela Alsobrooks announced Monday the county will expand into phase 1C of its vaccination rollout — a group of residents which includes those ages 65 to 74, sickle cell disease patients, veterinarians and public transit workers. Residents and those who work in the county must pre-register at https://covid19vaccination.princegeorgescountymd.gov to schedule an appointment.
Those in phase 1A and phase 1B who haven’t pre-registered are still encouraged to so using the same link. Those in the second and third phases may also pre-register and will receive a notification to make an appointment.
The state classifies the second group as people ages 16 to 64 with severe illnesses, incarcerated individuals in jail and prison and workers in the utility, transportation and infrastructure fields. The third and final phase includes the general public.
“Our vaccination rates have increased significantly over the past several weeks,” Alsobrooks said in a statement. “I’m encouraging everyone who is in Phase 1C to make sure you’re pre-registered so you can join the growing number of Prince Georgians who are ‘Proud to be Protected’ from COVID-19.”