ANNAPOLIS (WMAR) — Even with the shortage of vaccines, Maryland officials are working to make sure doses get to the most vulnerable populations.
"It is tactical. It is intentional and it meets people where they are," said Maryland National Guard Brigadier General Janeen Birckhead.
Thursday, the Maryland Vaccine Equity Task Force announced a new state-wide plan break down barriers to the COVID-19 vaccine and address health disparities.
"Historic data shows that vulnerable, underserved and hard to reach communities face both structural and informational barriers to vaccine access," said Birckhead.
Under the new operations plan, the task force will take proposals from organizations who are interested in holding vaccine clinics, review them, assess the site and if approved, help stand up those clinics.
"The goal is to provide enough support and oversight to make the clinic self-sufficient with minimal or no oversight going forward," said Birckhead.
Birckhead leads the task force, comprised of liaisons appointed by local health departments to ensure equitable delivery of vaccines.
"As of today, I think 60.4% [of vaccine doses administered] were for white residents. Our population is 58.5% so that’s slightly more than the population. We’re not where we need to me with the black community and the Hispanic community," said Gov. Larry Hogan.
Minority composition is one of many factors the task force is looking at to determine where the vaccines are needed most.
"Population over age 65, population with an annual income below $49,000, unemployment rate, population over 25 years old without a high school diploma," said Birckhead.
They have already held clinics at two churches in Baltimore City, have one set up in Prince Georges County for later this month and are considering other proposals too, but it’s all contingent upon vaccine supply.
"As we get more vaccine, we will certainly be able to go to more places, but the vaccine is what we have," said Birckhead.
If community organizations are interested in requesting a vaccine event, fill out the form found on page 8 and submit it to ng.md.mdarng.list.vet firstname.lastname@example.org.