The coronavirus vaccination process has begun in Prince George’s County with 3,700 doses received last week, but the phase-in schedule to administer shots could be behind Maryland’s abbreviated timetable by almost a month.
County Executive Angela Alsobrooks said during a press conference Wednesday the jurisdiction had a limited number of people to help execute the vaccine plan.
Members of the Maryland National Guard are scheduled to arrive in the county Thursday to assist with logistics and other measures. Alsobrooks said school nurses have volunteered to help.
“Even the best laid plan can’t be executed without people,” she said. “I think this is the most difficult part for everyone. Not just Prince George’s County, but you’re going to find that is the issue throughout the country.”
As of Wednesday, the majority Black jurisdiction continues to lead the state with the most confirmed cases at 56,830 and nearly 1,110 deaths.
However, in the past four weeks between Nov. 29 and Dec. 26, the case numbers decreased each week.
In the meantime, Alsobrooks, Prince George’s Chief Health Officer Ernest Carter and other health care officials and workers received a dose of the vaccine.
The Wayne K. Curry Sports and Learning Complex in Landover plans to open this week to vaccinate first responders and state employees who operate testing sites in the county. Another two sites plan to open in Clinton and Laurel.
Officials are operating under the state of Maryland’s phase 1A operation to administer shots for frontline health care and emergency workers and residents and staff in nursing homes.
Vaccinations for individuals in phase 1B will include adults 75 and older, teachers, primary care physicians and residents and staffers in assisted-living and group homes.
State officials seek to rollout that phase by the end of the month, but county officials may not be ready until February.
The state plans to incorporate phase 1C in March that includes adults ages 65 to 74, public safety and health workers not covered in phase 1A and other essential workers such as those at grocery stores, postal service and public transit. No timetable scheduled in the county for this phase.
The county may institute a second phase sometime in April, but the state hasn’t instituted a start date.
The Marylanders in this group are those ages 16 to 64 with severe illnesses, inmates in jails and prisons and workers in the utility, transportation and infrastructure fields.
The rest of the public could receive a vaccine later in the year.
Carter said the county’s vaccination plan remains on point.
“We’ve been planning for vaccination for three or four months. We’re right where we need to be,” he said.
Gov. Larry Hogan said at a press conference Tuesday in Annapolis that hospitals must use at least 75 percent of their vaccination allocations or risk receiving fewer doses in the future and possibility having some taken away to use in the next scheduled phase.
When asked Wednesday about Hogan’s statement, Alsobrooks called the proposal “ridiculous.”
“To take away a life-saving vaccine from any group of people is absolutely ridiculous,” she said. “Let’s work together. We’re in the business of saving lives.”
Officials urge residents patience and follow the health protocols.
“We must continue to wear the masks. We must continue to social distance. We must continue to avoid the family gatherings,” Alsobrooks said. “The vaccinations are coming. Help is on the way, but until then, we still have to continue using safe practices.”