BALTIMORE — Despite a lower distribution level of the COVID-19 vaccine than expected on a national level, Maryland hospitals say they are on track with vaccine distributions.
LifeBridge Health has vaccinated more than 2,000 employees. Wednesday, they started vaccinated staff and residents at Levindale Hebrew Geriatric Center & Hospital. MedStar Health stated they were on track but did not release any numbers.
The University of Maryland Medical System said they've vaccinated more than 7,000 employees and have appointments for nearly 18,000 in the upcoming weeks. They plan to have all their employees vaccinated by mid-January. In a statement, they said, "We are working at full-speed across the System to safely vaccinate staff, balancing logistical and operational requirements, including rigorous preparation procedures for each vaccine, ensuring appropriate monitoring of each employee vaccinated, and coordinating to ensure vaccinations for staff working within the same department are spaced appropriately. We expect to continue receiving regular distribution of vaccine from the state and will administer all vaccine as we receive supply."
Across the University of Maryland Medical System, we are continuing to make excellent progress with vaccinating frontline healthcare workers. By mid-January, we expect that all UMMS staff who wish to receive the COVID vaccination will have received their first dose, and some will have received their second dose. We’ve quickly progressed from receiving a limited supply of less than 1,000 initial doses on December 14 to standing up mass vaccination clinics at all 13 of our System hospitals, after receiving the vast majority of our vaccine supply (Moderna) last Wednesday. As of December 30, we’ve held more than 100 vaccination clinics across the System, vaccinating more than 9,100 employees, and have additional clinics with nearly 18,000 appointments scheduled over the next several weeks.
GBMC just started vaccinations on Monday and plan to have 1,200 employees vaccinated by Saturday.
"I lined up to be first this morning so I'm excited," said Dr. Bill Zirkin, an Emergency Care Physician with GBMC for 20 years, on Monday morning. "Life in general has been tough for everybody but working in the emergency department we've seen really a huge number of patients. Every day you’re taking care of these patients who are sick but also worried about yourself and worried about your family. It’s been very stressful. If this is successful it'll be such a relief."
Johns Hopkins started vaccinations about two weeks ago and have about 6,000 people vaccinated.
"Aiming for about a thousand a day across the system, we have quite a few people and then there’s the second dose so somewhere along the way we’ll be around two thousand because people will be coming in for second dose so that’s a big number," said Dr. Gabe Kelen, Director of Emergency Medicine at Johns Hopkins.
That's for the entire Hopkins system so not just here in Maryland but in D.C. and Florida as well, a total of about 50,000 people. He knows not everyone will want to be vaccinated but was actually surprised by the amount of people lining up.
"We're delightfully surprised at the incredible strong demand. We thought there would be some vaccine reticence. We thought people would say maybe I'll wait until you get it and see if your arm falls off then I'll think about it but everybody who's eligible just immediately wants this vaccine," said Dr. Kelen.
Once the frontline health care workers, first responders, nursing home staff and anyone over 75 is vaccinated then the vaccine will be available for the general population, which will most likely be in the spring. Dr. Kelen said, "by late spring, early summer all those huge spikes were seeing in infections we're gonna see that come back down, not to zero, but sometime into the summer, maybe late spring there will be a lot more normalcy."
He's asking all of us to hang on a little longer during this pandemic that there is an end in sight, there is some hope. We just need to keep wearing our masks and practicing social distancing.
He stressed how this vaccine is a huge scientific accomplishment. He said according to the research, Pfizer and Moderna vaccines are equal to fighting Covid-19. The only difference is the temperatures in which they need to be kept, Pfizer at about negative 95 degrees Fahrenheit and Moderna at 32 degrees.
"If there was no vaccine then the math to reach immunity, we’d be in this pandemic for 3-4 years at 200,000 infections a day. That’s how long this would take, if your listeners put this in perspective can you hang in for a few more months? Otherwise we’d be in this 3-4 years or even longer so this is it, this is a very good development," said Dr. Kelen.