The Maryland Vaccine Equity Task Force released a plan Thursday to ramp up the state’s efforts in vaccinating vulnerable communities.
The task force, which launched in January and is headed by Maryland National Guard Brigadier General Janeen Birckhead, will establish a community vaccine clinic in Prince George’s County at the First Baptist Church in Glenarden. The clinic is expected to open in less than two weeks.
The task force is also working to bring mobile vaccine clinics to Western Maryland and the Eastern Shore, according to a press release.
It will also use state and national data to identify vulnerable, underserved, hesitant or difficult-to-reach communities, guided by a variety of measures including total number of COVID-19 cases, low-income population, minority population and population over 65 years old, according to a press release.
“It is critical for these populations to receive COVID-19 vaccinations, improve community health outcomes, and stop the spread of the virus,” the task force’s operations plan read.
Last week, The Baltimore Sun reported that white Maryland residents are receiving four times as many vaccine doses as Black residents, despite the disproportionate effect the pandemic has had on Black Marylanders.
Last week, Gov. Larry Hogan said “Baltimore City had gotten far more [vaccines] than they really were entitled to” — a comment Baltimore Mayor Brandon Scott condemned. On Wednesday, Scott and Prince George’s County Executive Angela Alsobrooks called on the state to release a more equitable vaccine plan.
Prince George’s County continues to see low vaccination rates.
About nine percent of county residents have received a first dose, according to state vaccine data, while all other counties have vaccinated more than 10 percent of residents. About four percent of this county’s residents have received a second dose. All other counties’ second-dose vaccination rates are at least 5 percent.
The task force aims to build on previous vaccine equity efforts. It will work with local community and faith organizations to reach populations, according to the operations plan.
“Growing disparities in these communities make it necessary to be intentional and concrete in steps that we are going to take to remove these barriers and improve the rate of ‘vaccine in arms’ in vulnerable populations,” Birckhead said.