Annapolis, MD- Pre-registration is now open for Marylanders who will be eligible to receive a COVID-19 vaccine in the state’s third and final phase of its vaccine distribution plan, Gov. Larry Hogan said Thursday.

“As of today every single Marylander who wants a COVID-19 vaccine can now pre-register for an appointment at a mass vaccination site,” Hogan said at a news conference at the State House in Annapolis.

Hogan emphasized that Marylanders who are currently eligible for vaccination will still be prioritized.

“I want to stress that even though we are opening pre-registration to all Marylanders, individuals who are currently eligible under Phase 1 and Phase 2 but have still not been vaccinated-will continue to be prioritized.”

The state is currently in Phase 2B, which prioritizes Marylanders age 16 and older with underlying medical conditions as well as those in that age group who have disabilities. On April 13, the state is expected to move into Phase 2C, which will make all Marylanders age 55 and older and many essential workers eligible for vaccination. The state is not expected to enter Phase 3 until April 27, at which time all Marylanders age 16 and older will be eligible for vaccination.

And, as Hogan has often said, just because someone is eligible to be vaccinated that does not necessarily mean that there are enough vaccines available for everyone in a given group.

At Thursday’s news conference, Hogan said he is concerned about the rapid increase in the spread of COVID-19 variants across the nation and noted that even though Maryland is doing better than most of the other states in terms of containing the virus-the variants are nevertheless present here at home.

“We are doing sequencing testing for variants at one of the highest levels in the country and this has enabled us to identify 677 cases of COVID-19 variants in Maryland-86% of which are the B117 or the U.K. variant. We also have detected at least six other other variants, including the New York, California, South Africa, and both the B1 and the new B2 Brazilian strains.”

There are 412,928 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Maryland as of Thursday morning, according to the Department of Health, and 8,118 people in Maryland have died from the virus. The state’s positivity rate is at 5.51%, which is slightly above CDC recommended guidelines for containment. Maryland has conducted more than 8.8 million COVID-19 tests.

Maryland’s health care providers have administered 2,760,176 doses of the coronavirus vaccine. That includes 1,754,969 (29.028%) first doses and 927,851 1(5.347%) second doses. More than 1,000,000 people in Maryland are fully vaccinated, which is about 17% of the state’s total population.

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