Baltimore, MD – The Maryland Department of Health (MDH) today announced an important milestone in the fight against COVID-19 with the beginning of Phase 1C of Maryland’s vaccine distribution plan. Over 2 million Marylanders are now eligible for vaccines, including all residents age 65 and older. With eligibility for vaccines in Maryland at its highest level to date, the state continues to receive approximately 10,000 doses per day from the federal government – a far lower amount than is needed to meet full demand.
“Expanding COVID-19 vaccine eligibility will help us accelerate the process of getting more Marylanders vaccinated,” said Acting MDH Secretary Dennis R. Schrader. “By opening Phase 1C, we are making vaccines available to more of the state’s most at-risk populations, providing flexibility to our local distribution partners, and helping to ensure that the doses we have will not go to waste.”
Along with all state residents 65 and older, Phase 1C includes workers in food and agriculture production, critical manufacturing, public mass transit, grocery stores, veterinary occupations, the U.S. Postal Service, and clergy and their support staff. Public safety and health care workers who were not eligible in earlier phases are also included.
Due to the limited availability of vaccines, Marylanders age 65 and over must be given priority over all other groups in Phase 1C. Vaccines may not be fully available to many individuals and groups in Phase 1C for several weeks. Residents eligible based on occupation should inquire with their employer regarding vaccination plans.
Vaccine eligibility does not expire, and all Marylanders who were eligible under Phases 1A and 1B remain eligible, including licensed health care workers, teachers and school support staff, and residents and staff of congregate facilities. All Marylanders with intellectual and developmental disabilities remain eligible, and those who live in group homes and other congregate facilities will continue to receive priority. The federal Pharmacy Partnership for Long-Term Care Program remains the primary vaccination provider for congregate facilities in Maryland.
MDH and its network of partners across the public and private sectors continue to build a vaccine distribution infrastructure that will allow the state to avoid bottlenecks and distribute vaccines efficiently when availability increases in the future.
“We are building a robust, scalable network of distribution points across the state,” added Schrader. “As we establish more vaccination sites, we are also making sure that we have the personnel, scheduling, and communication systems to support them.”
To supplement the clinics that have been in place for several weeks, the state is launching a program to open vaccination clinics at Walmart and Giant/Martin’s pharmacy locations. By utilizing retail pharmacies to host clinics, the state is expanding vaccine distribution options for communities across the state. The program begins today, and it is expected to include additional pharmacy operators in the coming weeks.
The state is also recruiting individuals to support local jurisdictions’ vaccination sites through the MarylandMedNow program and Maryland Responds Medical Reserve Corps. Maryland Responds has already placed over 770 volunteers in ten jurisdictions, with more scheduled to start work this week. Additionally, the Maryland National Guard has deployed hundreds of troops to support both vaccination and testing sites in several jurisdictions.
MDH has created a public web page for vaccination site listings at covidvax.maryland.gov. Marylanders can use this locator tool to find available appointments and directly access individual sites’ scheduling tools. Users should keep in mind that appointments may not be immediately available at sites closest to their residences. All vaccination providers are asked to list their vaccine appointment registration web pages and phone lines on the site.
“The state’s vaccination program is driven by one goal: getting shots in arms. We are using every outlet available to us to accomplish this goal,” said Schrader. “When the national supply chain opens up, we will be ready.”