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Up to the task: Maryland task force finding equity in vaccinations

Posted at 3:32 PM, Apr 15, 2021
and last updated 2021-04-15 17:05:51-04

COLUMBIA, Md. — Delivering additional doses of the vaccine to churches who can convince their congregations to get vaccinated slowly, but surely is making a difference.

“This is absolutely equity,” said Brig. Gen. Janeen Birckhead of the Maryland Army National Guard. “Meeting people where they are. Putting shots in arms in their community, and this is what it’s about.”

Thus far, the Maryland Vaccine Equity Task Force has distributed 30,000 doses of the various vaccines to people living in the most vulnerable zip codes, which has catapulted the state into one of the nation’s leaders at reaching brown and black communities.

“More than two-thirds of all African-Americans in the state have been vaccinated, which is higher than many other categories so I think the equity task force has done an incredible job,” said Governor Larry Hogan. “Again, the Biden administration has repeatedly said other states should be doing what we’re doing.”

The task force realizes its work is far from over with people who remain doubtful over vaccines now looking at potential problems with Johnson & Johnson’s vaccine as validation for their own hesitancy, but it will continue its efforts to educate.

“To continue to send a message about the vaccine being efficacious and keeping you out of the hospital, and the more we do that and we continue to drive that message, then we will continue to be successful,” said Birckhead. “You know it’s that last mile that’s going to be the absolute drudge to get us over the line, but we are dogged in our pursuit of getting the vaccine into the community so we will continue to do what we do and meet people where they are.”

Maryland is tied for second among other states in vaccinating African-Americans and sixth among people of Asian descent while meeting the national average in delivering shots to Hispanics.