Under pressure Gov. Hogan launches initiatives to address issues with vaccine equitability

Posted at 4:16 PM, Mar 04, 2021
and last updated 2021-03-05 07:39:40-05

ANNAPOLIS, Md. — Under pressure over the lack of equitable distribution of COVID-19 vaccines, Governor Larry Hogan on Thursday held a press conference highlighting initiatives being launched to address the issue.

Hogan noted how pharmacies such as Walmart have set aside vaccines each week for residents in vulnerable communities.

In Prince George's County, the state has begun reaching people by text message to help them book an appointment.

The Governor and Maryland National Guard Brigadier General, Janeen Birckhead, then discussed the layout of a new Vaccine Equity Operations Plan.

Part of that includes the Vaccine Equity Task Force partnering with University of Maryland Capital Region Health to open up a vaccination site at First Baptist Church in Glenarden.

They're expected to offer up to 900 daily doses, and potentially more in the spring, without diverting from the Six Flags site.

Other clinics have been set up at Sacred Heart and New Shiloh Baptist Church in Baltimore.

Birckhead says the goal is "to meet people where they are."

To accomplish that, the task force will look at the below listed criteria.

A. Population over 65 years old
B. Population with an annual income below $49,000
C. Unemployment rate
D. Population older than 25 years old without a high school diploma
E. Single parent households
F. Housing with more than one person per room
G. Households without access to a vehicle
H. Total COVID cases
I. Minority composition of community
J. Amount of population receiving at least one dose

These latest efforts come as Governor Larry Hogan faces growing criticism from leaders namely in Baltimore City and Prince George's County.

Last week Hogan said Baltimore had received more vaccines than they were "entitled to," drawing outrage from Mayor Brandon Scott.

A few days later, the University of Maryland Medical System said the Baltimore Convention Center would prioritize vaccinating city residents living in certain zip codes.

READ MORE: Residents in certain city zip codes to be given preference for vaccine at Convention Center

During Thursday's briefing the contentious back and forth continued.

Hogan claimed the Mayor was not "up to speed," about his own health department's request to have the state transfer some of their doses to other providers listed below.

Vaccine transfers

Scott later disagreed, saying he requested the permission so vaccines could be administered more quickly.

Hogan also said the state had previously offered the city $9 million in funding to help in vaccination efforts, but was turned down.

The Governor continued saying Scott, “tries to point the finger and blame it on [the state].”

Prior to Hogan's comments, Scott addressed the state's claims of turning down millions on his official Facebook page.

"Baltimore has applied directly for federal dollars throughout the pandemic for 100% reimbursement — rather than using the state as a pass-through, where federal dollars were capped."

Scott also shared a letter that City Administrator Christopher Shorter sent to the state regarding the claims.

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Overall, Hogan admitted Thursday there is a disparity in populations who have and haven't gotten the vaccine, "we are not where we need to be with the Black or Latin communities."

SEE ALSO: Vanishing vaccines in Baltimore

Following Hogan's remarks, Scott took to Facebook again with City Health Commissioner Letitia Dzirasa to respond to what they called "false and misleading statements," by the Governor.