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Questions surrounding long wait times for vaccination appointments

Acting Dep. Health Secretary responds to concerns
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Posted at 8:28 AM, Feb 22, 2021
and last updated 2021-02-22 08:29:27-05

BALTIMORE, Md. — Many people are losing patience with the time it takes to secure a COVID-19 vaccination appointment.

Whether it's a local health department, hospital, or retail pharmacy many people will sign up with multiple vaccination sites to up their chances of getting a shot of the COVID vaccine, yet the state hasn’t simplified the process with one central registration system.

Maryland Acting Deputy Health Secretary Dr. Jinlene Chan said “many of the hospitals and other partners already have their own electronic health records and systems, and so tying it to a single appointment system was going to be complicated.”

The difficulty in getting a vaccination appointment is because more people want the vaccine than there are doses currently available. However, while the number of vaccination sites increasing, the supply has not kept up with the demand.

“We’re trying to build in additional access points in preparation for when there is more vaccine coming into the state. And so, whenever you're looking at distribution points, we're trying to build in layers,” Chan said.

Those additional layers include more mass vaccination sites, local pharmacies, and hospitals, and eventually smaller neighborhood based sites

“We are beginning to put some effort into smaller community-based sites to get into neighborhoods that might not be able to travel to some of the larger sites so that we can really get into our vulnerable communities and vulnerable populations,” Chan said.

It's also one reason we've seen the state move on to vaccinating people in Phase 1C, even though many local health officers report they haven't finished taking care of everyone wanting the vaccine in Phase 1A or 1B.

“Our federal partners, both Dr. Fauci, the previous administration, and the current administration really saying we need to move ahead and try to get to individuals who are 65 and older and some of our critical infrastructure. So, we want to open it up. We have not moved into Phase 2 yet, and we continue to work towards completing phase 1, but we are not there yet,” Chan said.

Whether someone is eligible and still waiting to get vaccinated in phase 1A, 1B, or 1C, or waiting for their group to be called, officials are asking many to do just that, which is to be patient and wait.

“Hearing that, being patient is not necessarily the message they would like to hear, but we don't have enough vaccine right now, for everyone who wants it. So, it is coming, people are getting vaccinated, and we are pushing it out as quickly as we get it,” Chan said.

Instead of signing up with multiple vaccination sites Dr. Chan asks people to just pick one or two sites which work best for them, and continue to wear masks and practice social distancing while they wait to get their appointment.