Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan visited the largest church in the state Tuesday to help kick off a new vaccination program.
The First Baptist Church of Glenarden’s 63,000 square-foot family life center is the county’s latest vaccine site.
“We recognize the growing disparities in our communities that make it necessary for us to make this vaccination available,” said John K. Jenkins, the pastor at the First Baptist Church of Glendarden.
While the county was worried about hesitancy from members of the community, there is more of a demand than a supply. Nearly 120,000 residents are waiting for their shots.
The vaccinated population in D.C. may be overestimated in this map because some non-residents who work in D.C. are included in the totals.
With the growing demand, partnerships with local churches have become even more crucial to the vaccine’s rollout.
“This location is a really important location,” said Prince George’s County Executive Angela Alsobrooks. “It is a place where the community feels comfortable. It is trusted. It is very different than going to a football field or going even to a grocery store parking lot.”
The church has partnered with the University of Maryland, Capital Region Health and the state to make vaccines available to everyone in the county.
“It’s a wonderful example of a team effort,” Hogan said.
With the launch of additional vaccination sites at grocery stores and pharmacies, Alsobrooks said the county has moved up to third place in state distribution, coming from 23rd place previously.
“Prince George’s County has really done an incredible job,” Hogan said. “Their health department and all of their partners stepping up … Their production, their ability to get vaccines into arms has been dramatically improved.”
Hogan said he spoke with the White House Tuesday and learned that while the state may not be getting an increase in vaccinations this month, Marylanders should expect a larger supply in April.
Some church leaders have received their vaccines from the site in hopes to encourage their congregations to get their shots as well.
“In the faith-based communities, pastors, we are leaders and we are influencers,” said Charles Whitaker, the pastor of River of Life Church.
Those who want to schedule a vaccination at the site must preregister. Jenkins hopes to get the site running on a more regular basis and begin to distribute 1,000 vaccinations each week.