State to open mass vaccination clinics, despite supply falling well short of demand

Posted at 3:15 PM, Jan 26, 2021
and last updated 2021-01-27 07:32:18-05

ANNAPOLIS, Md. — Tuesday, Governor Larry Hogan called vaccine distribution the "largest peacetime undertaking in history," saying the process is taking much longer than anyone expected because the doses aren't being made fast enough to keep up with demand.

"I fully expect that the demand for vaccines will continue to far exceed the supply that will be available to us," said Hogan.

He said expect to be a put on a waiting list. Maryland is dealing with an extremely limited supply of vaccines, about 10,000 doses a day from the federal government for the 2 million people who are now eligible.

Hogan said it's estimated that 4 million total doses will be needed to complete the entire first phase.

When all is set and done, Hogan said Maryland will need about 12.1 million doses to vaccinate the entire state.

"The last 10 months have been really hard. This is going to be much much harder so I ask all Marylanders to as difficult as it is, please be patient," said Hogan.

Hogan does expect increased dose allocation from the federal government so in the meantime, the state is getting ready, using the Maryland National Guard to set up 6 mass vaccination sites. Six Flags America in Prince George's County and the Baltimore Convention Center will open up no later than next Friday. As more vaccinations become available, M&T Bank Stadium is expected to be used as a site as well.

Additionally, the state is finalizing sites for the Eastern Shore, and western and southern Maryland.

"When Maryland receives more vaccines, we will be ready to distribute them and a variety of providers will be prepared to administer them," said Maryland Department of Health Secretary Dennis Schrader.

Hogan said beginning Monday, Phase 1 will be expanded to include severely immunocompromised Marylander, like cancer patients going through active treatment, and those with sickle cell disease.

He also addressed the backlash for continuing to broaden eligibility.

"Nobody is using these ones and they are sitting on the shelf. We didn’t want them to expire so we had to get them in arms. Since then, we went form 10,000 a day or 12,000 a day to 18,000 a day so it worked," said Hogan.

Health officials said there is another bit of hope on the horizon to deal with the dose shortage. The Johnson & Johnson vaccine should be ready for emergency use authorization in a few weeks.

"The J&J vaccine is a single shot with less cold-chain storage requirements so the authorization of this vaccine could be a game changer," said Dr. David Marcozzi, senior medical adviser to the Governor for COVID-19.

READ MORE: Maryland enters Phase 1C of vaccine distribution, any resident 65+ now eligible

According to Hogan, CVS and Walgreens completed their distribution to nursing homes and have now begun moving onto assisted living facilities, for which the CDC requires 20,000 doses to be allocated weekly.

Some other retail pharmacies such as Safeway and Rite Aid will begin offering vaccinations next week for those eligible, joining Giant Good and Walmart locations that started vaccinations Monday.

Currently there are roughly 100 providers online across the state, which can be found here.

Hogan also announced nearly $220 million from FEMA to support their scaled up vaccination efforts.

To see which vaccine phase your county is in, check out the new WMAR-2 News vaccine page.