State to close COVID mass vaccination centers

A nurse administers a dose of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine to a patient at the Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium site in Annapolis. The stadium is one of the state's mass vaccination sites set to close in coming weeks.

ANNAPOLIS — The state’s mass vaccination centers — including in Salisbury, Baltimore and Annapolis — will be closing as demand for COVID vaccines wane and new outreach efforts focus on mobile clinics and community venues.

Gov. Larry Hogan announced the “phased demobilization process” for closing large scale mass vaccine centers on Thursday, June 3.

Local health departments may continue to offer COVID vaccines at the sites now run by state health officials.

The state will wind down its operations at the Wicomico County Youth and Civic Center in Salisbury on June 29 but the local health department is looking at keeping vaccine efforts going at the arena.

Jennifer Johnson, a spokesperson for the Wicomico County Health Department, said the local agency is currently offering COVID vaccines at the Center at Salisbury Mall and is looking to shift those operations  back to the arena.

“We still plan on having a clinic there,” Johnson said. 

She said her agency is still determining the logistics and timing of reopening its vaccine center at the civic center in Salisbury.

State mass vaccination sites at the Navy-Marine Corps Stadium in Annapolis will close on July 3 along with one at The Mall in Columbia. The mass vaccine center at M&T Stadium in Baltimore will close on July 2, according to the governor. Hogan mobilized the Maryland National Guard to help with the state vaccination centers.

“I said our goal was to put ourselves out of business at these mass vaccination sites, and as one of the most vaccinated states in the country, we are now approaching that point,”  Hogan said. “We have already begun shifting some of these resources to our mobile clinics and community-based activities as we continue in our mission to make sure no arm is left behind. We are also keeping Six Flags, one of our most popular mass vaccination sites, open through mid-July. These sites were an incredible undertaking, and I want to especially thank everyone who was involved in building them, and all the nurses, volunteers, and National Guard members who have staffed them rain or shine over the last several months.”

The governor said the centers that remain open will continue to offer COVID vaccines without appointments.

The Maryland Department of Health reports more than 6.19 million COVID vaccine shots have been administered statewide and close to 2.95 million Marylanders are fully vaccinated. 

That accounts for just under 49% of the state’s population. Hogan said Wednesday the state has fully vaccinated 56.5% of its population according to the U.S Centers for Disease Control tracking data. MDH reports 70.3% of Marylanders have received at least one COVID vaccine shot.

The state along with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) have deployed mobile vaccine units on the Eastern Shore and other parts of the state. Those are aimed at reaching hesitant and remote communities.

There continues to vaccine hesitancy and resistance among younger people, African Americans, immigrants as well as rural residents and Trump supporters.

“The mass vaccination program has been a major accelerant of our vaccine effort since early 2021,” said Maryland Health Secretary Dennis Schrader in a statement. “Through mass vaccination sites, we have administered nearly 1 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines to Marylanders from all areas of the state. We continue to partner with our local health departments, primary care physicians, hospitals, and other COVID-19 vaccine providers to offer vaccines to all eligible Marylanders.”

Hogan and state health officials point out that COVID vaccines are available at more than 700 pharmacies statewide as well as physicians offices.

Hogan previously called the mass vaccination efforts and mobilization of the National Guard “the greatest peacetime undertaking in American history, “

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