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Baltimore City officials cancel vaccine appointments due to overbooking

Posted at 8:27 AM, Feb 01, 2021
and last updated 2021-02-03 07:29:01-05

BALTIMORE — Anyone scheduled for to get their first dose of the vaccine at the city’s vaccination site at Baltimore city community college will want to double check and see if they still have an appointment.

Baltimore officials are canceling some appointments after overbooking hundreds of first-dose appointments.

The health department said in a statement that it was working to identify potential issues in the state's scheduling system.

They say that people who received their first dose received an email to set up a second dose appointment.

Baltimore City believes that email was forwarded to other people, thinking they were sharing vaccine information. Because of this, they were overbooked and cannot give new vaccines in February, only second doses.

Officials say 25 percent of the appointments were from people trying to get a first dose, and now they have to really make sure they get that second dose to people.

“We really do want to prioritize individuals that got that first dose,” said Baltimore city health commissioner Dr. Letitia Dzirasa said. “We want to make sure they get that second dose so they can get that 94 to 95 percent effectiveness that the vaccine offers.”

Individuals have received a cancellation email. Officials did not specify how many appointments would be canceled, but it’s estimated to be in the “hundreds”.

Dr. Dzirasa said some of the people, whose appointments were canceled, still showed up at the vaccination site after the scheduling system called PrepMod, which is ran by the state, still sent out a reminder for appointments that were already canceled, leading to even more confusion.

“Even though we said cancel it on your end. We aren’t able to accommodate you, they still got an email from that same system where they originally scheduled their first dose indicating that they had an appointment,” she said.

The Health Department’s vaccination pod site at Baltimore City Community College should be considered a “second dose” only appointment site until further notice.

"We will provide public notice when we have opened up our appointment slots again for first dose appointments," Health officials say. "We would like to reiterate that while we acknowledge the high demand for vaccines in Baltimore, second dose appointments must be prioritized during the earliest days of the vaccine rollout, and during times of vaccine scarcity, in order to ensure the effectiveness of the vaccination. We ask Baltimore residents to please not forward these links to others when making a second dose appointment."

On Tuesday, Mayor Brandon Scott issued the following statement on challenges with coordination at the State level, impacting Baltimore’s COVID-19 vaccination strategy:

As Baltimore continues to plan and implement our citywide vaccination efforts, we remain committed to a coherent, collaborative, and equitable approach to the vaccination process. We know that this pandemic has disproportionately affected our Black and Brown communities throughout our City. We also know that equitably distributing the vaccine is a key step in bringing the pandemic to an end.

However, the State’s response and vaccination efforts have been uncoordinated to say the least, leading to frustration amongst residents who are eligible to be vaccinated but cannot get an appointment and an unpredictable supply of vaccines that makes planning and prioritization efforts difficult. Stronger partnership with the State is needed to ensure the equitable vaccination of Baltimore City residents.

Based on challenges we have observed and heard directly from residents about, I am calling on Governor Hogan and the Maryland Department of Health [] to commit to reserving daily vaccination slots for: (1) the more than 15,000 older adults who have expressed interest in making an appointment, (2) teachers at City schools, (3) judges and staff from our courts, and (4) eligible Baltimore residents in Phase 1A, 1B, and 1C who have struggled to get their first dose appointment. Improved coordination would allow us to ensure our limited supply of vaccine can get to those who need it most.

I also asked the Governor for visibility on the percentage of City residents that have accessed the regional mass vaccination state sites in Baltimore City, to ensure equitable administration of vaccination and plan more effective outreach and education efforts for Baltimore City residents.

My administration stands ready to swiftly vaccinate Baltimore City residents as rapidly as our supply allows us. Baltimore currently has the lowest case rates in the state, and my administration will continue to work hard to ensure the safety and wellbeing of our residents through a framework of equity.

If you'd like to know where your county stands on the vaccine roll-out, click here.