Maryland will move into the next substage of its coronavirus vaccination plan beginning next week, Gov. Larry Hogan said Thursday evening.
The state is in Phase IA, which prioritizes nursing home residents and staff, frontline hospital workers, and first responders.
“After a thorough review today I am pleased to announce that the state of Maryland is now activating Phase 1B of the COVID-19 vaccination plan. On Monday, January 18, eligible groups will be expanded statewide to include all Marylanders 75 and over as well as anyone of any age living in assisted living or independent living facilities and developmental disabilities and behavioral health group homes,” Hogan said at a news conference at the State House in Annapolis.
Hogan added: “In addition, those now eligible in Phase 1B include: all K-12 teachers, education staff, as well as childcare providers. We have also activated Part B of the federal CVS and Walgreens partnership to now include assisted living and all other long-term care facilities.”
Hogan said the state is launching a pilot program with both WalMart and Giant so that those pharmacies can begin administering vaccines. The program will begin on January 25 and will include 22 Giants and 10 WalMarts throughout Maryland, Hogan said.
The governor said that Phase 1C of the vaccination of plan, which was expected to begin sometime in March and includes all adults between ages 65-74-will now begin on Jan. 25.
Hogan stressed that it is not necessary for health care providers to vaccinate all of the eligible people in one group before moving on to the next group.
Hogan urged Marylanders to be patient, saying that despite the good news the rollout process will still take time.
“I know that many Marylanders will be pleased to hear that we are able to accelerate our timeline and that we will be opening up more eligibility much sooner than expected. But I want to strongly caution that this will continue to be a long process. Going forward our greatest limiting factor by far will be supply. As of today, we have received approximately 547,000 doses. And this is divided up between first doses and second doses. The number of people just in Phase 1 of our plan is 1.5 million people. And they need two doses. So that’s 3 million doses that we need just to be able to vaccinate the people in Phase 1.”
There are 317,815 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Maryland as of Thursday morning, according to the Department of Health, and 6,277 people in Maryland have died from the virus. The state’s positivity rate is at 8.43%, which is well above CDC recommended guidelines for containment. Maryland has conducted almost 6.3 million COVID-19 tests.