COVID-19 alert

ANNAPOLIS — Gov. Larry Hogan has released the state of Maryland’s draft plans for how it would implement and distribute mass COVID-19 vaccinations.

Hogan said on Oct. 20 that the state has submitted draft ‘mass vaccination’ plans to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control.

“In anticipation of a COVID-19 vaccine, Maryland stands ready to order, distribute, and administer it effectively and rapidly as soon as a vaccine becomes available,” Hogan said in a statement. “The State of Maryland’s plan for this historic undertaking will immediately make the vaccine available to Marylanders at highest risk of developing complications from COVID-19 as well as our critical frontline health care workers and essential workers in public safety and education.”

There is some public resistance and skepticism to a coronavirus vaccine. A poll earlier this month by Goucher College in Baltimore found 55% of rural voters in the state (including on the Eastern Shore), 61% of African Americans and 53% of conservatives were not interested in getting a COVID-19 vaccine, even if it was free.

The state’s initial mass vaccination plans call for a phased approach with frontline health care workers, patients and staff at nursing homes and assisted living centers as well as ‘essential workers’ such as public safety personnel and teachers getting in the first round of vaccinations.

The initial wave of vaccinations will also focus on seniors and those with underlying medical conditions. The virus has had more severe health impacts on older patients and those with preexisting conditions.

Inmates in prisons and jails as well as correctional staff have are also listed among those who would get COVID-19 vaccines in Maryland’s initial rollout, according to draft documents submitted the CDC.

There are 855,580 people in Maryland’s first phase of a vaccine deployment, according to the state’s plans.

Maryland’s plans call for broader implementations of a vaccine to the general public in second and third phases, according to the state’s plans submitted to the CDC.

State officials expect a COVID vaccine will require two doses.

The Maryland Department of Health will spearhead the state’s effort along with other state agencies and local health departments. Maryland’s plans also outline online dashboards and databases that will be used to track vaccinations.

“The Maryland Department of Health has worked collaboratively with our many partners in both the public and private sectors to develop a draft plan that will ensure the swift, safe, and equitable administration of a life-saving COVID-19 vaccine,” said Maryland Department of Health Secretary Robert Neall. “We stand ready to take additional action and operationalize this effort as soon as a vaccine becomes available.”

Maryland is home to more than 40 pharmaceutical and medical research companies that have been working on a coronavirus vaccine, Hogan said.

The Maryland Department of Health also is tasked with coordinating a public health campaign informing the public of the safety and efficacy of a vaccine.

“As we learn more, our plan will continue to evolve—but our focus will always be on the safety and efficacy of the COVID-19 vaccine to prevent the spread of the disease among Marylanders,” said Maryland Department of Health Acting Deputy Secretary of Public Health Jinlene Chan. “From provider recruitment and enrollment to vaccine storage and reminders about second doses, MDH has taken a very calculated approach to ensure the logistics, operations, and execution of this plan are thorough and efficient.”

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