NewsIn Focus


Vaccine squeeze as cases spike

Maryland awaits delayed Johnson and Johnson doses
Posted at 3:49 PM, Apr 12, 2021
and last updated 2021-04-28 14:35:48-04

TIMONIUM, Md. — At 23 percent fully vaccinated, Maryland needs about twice that many more people to get shots to achieve herd immunity, which makes the mishap, which wasted 15 million Johnson & Johnson shots seem like a big mistake at a critical time during the pandemic.

“We have been notified… this is the bad news part…that the reduction…we saw a reduction of about 80,000 doses of Johnson & Johnson in this coming week. That’s going to continue likely for another couple of weeks,” Governor Larry Hogan told announced last week.

At what many consider the state’s best-run mass vaccination site in Timonium, Baltimore County administered 5,000 Johnson and Johnson shots in a single day on Sunday, but will have to shift to a little over 5800 shots of Pfizer this week to try to maintain its momentum.

“For us, although I would have assumed that had we had more J&J, they would have given me additional J&J also, and as you know, we can go up to a thousand an hour so for us, the more you would give us, the more we would actually utilize,” said Baltimore County Health Officer Dr. Gregory Branch.

This at a site, which at last count, had 300,000 people waiting on its county registry for shots even before the state designated it as a mass site, which now will also serve those waiting on the state’s registration site.

Because of various outreach programs and clinics, branch is confidant the county is addressing vaccine equity issues---getting more shots into black and brown arms, but now that everyone over the age of 15 is eligible, the race is on to protect people from any new spikes, like the one seen in recent weeks here.

“There is a race and this race has got to be that we’ve got to be able to vaccinate people as quickly as possible,” said Branch, “because the longer we wait to vaccinate everyone, the more likelihood that there’ll be more variants and more complicated variants and those complicated variants will become detrimental to us, and so we want to get everyone vaccinated as soon as possible.”

While the number of new cases barely dipped below a thousand on Monday, the average seven-day positivity rate jumped to 5.6 percent.