All Marylanders 16 and over will be eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine no later than April 27 , Gov. Larry Hogan announced at a press conference Thursday.
The announcement comes as Maryland prepares to dole out three vaccines across several state-run mass vaccination sites, in addition to pharmacies and county-run clinics. About 21.45 percent of the state’s population has been vaccinated with the first of a two-dose vaccine, according to the state’s coronavirus dashboard.
Beginning Tuesday, all Marylanders 60 and older will be eligible for the vaccine. On March 30, all Marylanders over 16 with underlying medical conditions that increase the risk for severe COVID-19 illness will be eligible.
Two weeks later, on April 13, all Marylanders 55 and older, along with essential workers in construction, food services, utilities and IT, will also be eligible.
“We are now one big step closer to reaching that light at the end of the tunnel that we’ve all been talking about,” Hogan said.
Earlier this week, the White House told governors to expect “a significant increase” in vaccines to be distributed to states beginning the week of March 29, Hogan said. Supply has been the greatest obstacle to expanding the rollout to more Marylanders, the governor said.
Marylanders 60 and older can now preregister to receive a vaccine at one of the state’s mass vaccination sites starting now at covidvax.maryland.gov or by calling 1-855-MD-GOVAX (1-855-634-6829).
With the state’s vaccine rollout rapidly expanding in the coming weeks, Hogan said Marylanders in earlier eligibility groups will continue to be prioritized. This includes adults 65 and older, as well as health care workers and nursing home residents and staff.
“As we continue to leverage every possible resource we can to get shots into arms as efficiently and equitably as possible,” Hogan said, “I can assure you that … our entire team will not rest until every single Marylander who wants a vaccine has received a vaccine.”
The governor said the state is launching new efforts to ensure the vaccine rollout reaches underserved communities. This week, the state is launching a “pilot program” that will allow primary care practices to call patients directly to schedule vaccine appointments, he said.
The program will begin with 37 practices across the state, including ones that serve “largely African American and Hispanic patients” and some that serve communities with less geographic access to other vaccination sites, he said. The state will also use mobile clinics and work with hospitals to reach those underserved communities.
Hogan extolled the safety and effectiveness of the COVID-19 vaccines and urged residents to get a vaccine when it is available to them.
“I want to ask all Marylanders to please get vaccinated when it’s your turn,” Hogan said.
This story has been updated.