The first installment of Maryland’s coronavirus vaccines will reach all of the state’s hospitals and nursing homes within the next two weeks, Deputy Health Secretary Dr. Jinlene Chan said Tuesday.
The news comes the very day Maryland’s COVID death toll exceeded 5,000 and one day after the University of Maryland Medical System received its initial installment of COVID-19 vaccines.
“Over the course of the next two weeks all hospitals will have vaccines to begin vaccination of their critical frontline staff. Also within the next two weeks nursing homes will have their vaccination programs begin in partnership with CVS and Walgreens,” Chan said at a news conference at the State House in Annapolis in which she was accompanied by Gov. Larry Hogan and other high-ranking state officials.
Chan added: “I want to emphasize that in these early stages as we are beginning the implementation of our vaccination program that there will be limited doses that we have available to Maryland. However, with this initial allocation of 155,000 doses of both the Pfizer and the Moderna vaccines, this will be dedicated and allocated to health care workers in hospitals and nursing homes.”
Chan said it is possible that Maryland could receive up to 300,000 doses of the vaccine by the end of the month but that that figure is contingent upon the federal government following through with its distribution plans. Chan said that as more vaccines become available in the coming weeks that different categories of health care workers will be included in the first phase of distribution. Chan said Phase 1B of distribution will include those who considered being at high-risk of complications if they contract the virus and that Phase 2 will include the state’s essential workers.
Hogan said that today he is reactivating the state’s national guard to assist with vaccine distribution.
“During this initial distribution phase, the guard will be providing logistical support. Special field teams will be deployed to assist state health officials with vaccination planning and operations as well as providing logistical support to points of distribution across the state. As more vaccines become available to us the guard will then be ramping up to provide additional coordination and logistical support and to help us with the set up of mobile vaccination clinics. The guard will also augment our rapid response teams to address outbreaks at nursing homes and other long-term care facilities.”
Hogan noted that today an agreement was reached between a South Korean laboratory that previously provided the state with 500,000 COVID-19 testing kits-and a clinical laboratory based in Frederick-for the purchase of an additional 1,000,000 testing kits.
“These LabGenomics tests and these two companies will continue to save lives and make a real difference on the front lines here in our state. We want to again thank the Republic of Korea and this great company, LabGenomics, for coming to our aid when we desperately needed it back in the dark days of this crisis.”
There are 239,362 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Maryland as of Tuesday morning, according to the Department of Health, and 5,039 Marylanders have died from the virus. The state’s positivity rate is at 7.53%, which is well above CDC recommended guidelines for containment. Maryland has conducted almost 5.1 million COVID-19 tests.