Baltimore City starts vaccinating first responders, public health staff

Baltimore City leaders provide update on COVID-19 , vaccine distribution
Posted at 1:29 PM, Jan 05, 2021

BALTIMORE — It started with 100 vaccines and Tuesday Baltimore City officials said they began to roll out thousands more.

"We received a second batch of 2,600 doses last week and we will begin using those doses today to vaccinate health care workers and our first responders," said Dzirasa.

With limited supply, the Baltimore City Health Department has laid out a multi-tiered plan.

Aside from hospital-based health care workers and nursing home staff and residents, which get separate allocations and are not vaccinated by the city, the health department’s first tier focuses on public health vaccinators.

Last week, the city administered its first 100 doses to those individuals.

Tuesday the city moved into its pod vaccination structure, at Under Armour's Port Covington Campus which Baltimore County is also using.

"While we are seeing vaccines, the supply is still limited," said Health Commissioner Dr. Letitia Dzirasa.

Dzirasa said they are prioritizing those with frequent COVID-19 exposure who cannot work from home or social distance.

For instance as of last week, the Baltimore City Fire Department had 211 employees under quarantine while Baltimore Police reported 103 .

Tier two also includes COVID-19 testing and Baltimore City field hospital staff.

People at risk of exposure, like law enforcement and dentists, are included in tier 3A while tier 3B includes public health staff that may be able to telework or control social distancing, like physical therapists and community health workers.

Because BCHD finds out weekly how many doses they will get, there’s no timeline on how quickly vaccines will be deployed, but Dzirasa they have the staff ready.

"Maryland Responds has provided with a number of clinical volunteers to help with support and we have clinical staff as well within the health department," said Dzirasa.

Once the initial phases roll out, the city says the goal is to "maximize benefits and minimize harm, promote justice, and reduce health inequity."

The roll out comes as Baltimore City is seeing COVID cases trending down: a 19 percent decrease from 4 weeks ago.

"I’m cautiously optimistic about our trends based on what we’ve seen from the cases. However what we have consistently seen is spikes in cases following holidays like Thanksgiving, Hanukkah and Christmas," said Scott.

This Friday will make four weeks that indoor and outdoor dining has been shut down, and Mayor Brandon Scott said they are evaluating what is necessary moving forward.

"We will look at the data and make a decision based on health data and health data alone. This is a health emergency," said Scott.