Maryland will enter phase 1B of the state’s COVID-19 vaccination plan this coming Monday, Gov. Larry Hogan announced at a press conference Thursday. This phase includes people over the age of 75, K-12 teachers and child care providers.
Currently, only health care workers, first responders, nursing home residents and nursing home staff are eligible to receive the vaccine as part of phase 1A. Hogan also announced the state would be moving into phase 1C starting Jan. 25, which would allow people between the ages of 65 to 74 to be vaccinated.
As part of the rollout of phase 1B, Hogan announced the launch of a pilot program that allows 22 Giant grocery stores and 10 Walmart stores across the state to start vaccinating eligible people. These vaccinations will initially be available on an appointment basis, Hogan said.
“Our primary goal is for them to get more shots into the arms of more people in our vulnerable populations as quickly as they can,” Hogan said.
Vaccination of K-12 teachers will start in the coming weeks using plans submitted by the state superintendent, Hogan said. Educators and child care workers were prioritized to receive the vaccine so in-person learning could resume, Hogan added.
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College and university educators were not mentioned in Hogan’s press conference. Last week, the University of Maryland Health Center said it had not received any doses of the vaccine and did not announce an anticipated date for when it plans to start vaccinating students, faculty and staff.
During the press conference, Hogan also stressed concerns about the limited availability of vaccine doses, calling on companies making the vaccines and President-elect Joe Biden to commit to making more doses available.
The 547,300 vaccine doses the state has allocated so far comprise just 18 percent of the vaccine doses required for Phase 1 of the state’s vaccination plan, and only 4.5 percent of the over 12 million doses Hogan says will be required to vaccinate everyone in the state.
Last week, Hogan said he anticipated that only 30 percent of the state’s population will be vaccinated by the end of May.
“I want to strongly caution that this will continue to be a long process,” Hogan said.
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While almost all of the 549,300 vaccine doses that the federal government allotted to Maryland have been distributed to providers, only 37 percent of those doses have actually been administered so far.
Hogan also announced he would issue a state order today allowing for out-of-state providers to prepare and administer vaccines in Maryland. Hogan also granted counties the ability to move onto vaccinating other populations as they see fit. Hogan referred to the state’s current vaccination plan as a “Southwest Airlines distribution model,” as vaccinations are first-come first-served once eligible.
“As was expected, we are now entering the most challenging phase of the pandemic,” Hogan said.