Maryland will provide four-week projections about vaccine allocations to local leaders to help them better organize appointments, Gov. Larry Hogan said Thursday in an update to the state's vaccination efforts.
Up until now, the governor said, state health officials have had to wait until Thursday, Friday or even Saturday night to know what the allocations would be for the following week.
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“I’ve now directed the Maryland Department of Health to provide county officials with four-week allocation projections, so that they can plan ahead and can open up more appointments for their clinics," the Republican governor said at a news confidence.
Hogan also said locations for mass vaccination sites in western and southern Maryland, as well as the Eastern Shore, are still being finalized, with plans to open in March, depending on when higher allocations of vaccines are available.
Mass vaccinations sites at Six Flags in Prince George's County and the Baltimore Convention Center are on track to vaccinate more than 15,000 people in their first week of operation, Hogan said. A mass vaccination site is scheduled to open Feb. 25 at M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore, and appointments will become available sometime next week.
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Also next week, Hogan said Maryland will launch a statewide call center to assist Marylanders with making appointments for mass vaccination sites.
The governor announced that the state has launched a program to provide up to 1 million COVID-19 tests for both public and non-public schools to support schools that are open or plan to reopen for in-person learning. Currently, 16 school systems in the state currently are open for some form of in-person instruction, and six more have indicated they will be opening for in-person instruction for at least some students by March 1.
The governor said limited visitation will be allowed to resume at Maryland hospitals and nursing homes. Each hospital will set its own visiting policies, which must be in compliance with Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines. Indoor visitation at nursing homes will resume as early as March 1, provided facilities do not have active cases and follow proper testing protocols.
Hogan continued to bemoan the lack of enough vaccine to meet demand. He said he is scheduled to meet with President Joe Biden at the White House on Friday.
“Every state, every county, and every city in America is facing the exact same problem: We are simply not receiving enough vaccines to meet the demand," Hogan said.
So far, Maryland has administered more than 785,000 total doses, Hogan said, and 78% of first doses have been administered.
Maryland receives about 11,000 vaccine doses a day, while under state guidelines 2 million residents are now eligible, the governor said.
“The basic problem is pretty simple: we need more damn vaccines," Hogan said.
Earlier this week, Hogan said he urged the Biden administration to consider using the Defense Production Act to harness manufacturing in the nation and get more pharmaceutical companies to produce vaccines. Hogan also said governors are asking the federal government to more closely coordinate with states regarding allocations of vaccines they are sending directly to pharmacies and other providers.
To help create greater equity in the distribution of vaccines, Hogan said, the state is asking each county to appoint an equity officer to serve as a liaison to state officials to coordinate equity issues.
“As the state focuses on mass vaccination we’re calling on county health departments who know their communities best to help us reach hard to reach areas and underserved populations," Hogan said.