Maryland’s leading health officials and the state’s top doctors Monday celebrated the news that the Baltimore Convention Center Field Hospital (BCCFH) will be launching a pilot program aimed at administering coronavirus vaccines to members of underserved communities.
The pilot program is the result of a public-private partnership between the Maryland Department of Health, University of Maryland Medical System (UMMS), and Johns Hopkins Medicine (JHM). The field hospital is the state’s first mass vaccination site. It is one of two mass vaccination sites in Baltimore City. The other is located at M&T Stadium.
“This innovative program gives us another powerful tool to reach vulnerable communities with safe and effective vaccines,” Acting Health Secretary Dennis Schrader said in a statement. “This is an all-hands-on-deck undertaking, and I want to thank our partners for their commitment to ensuring equitable access to vaccines.”
“This pilot is a demonstration of the commitment to get the equity equation right—the state, our local partners, and the community finding the answer together,” Brigadier General Janeen Birckhead of the Maryland National Guard and head of the state’s equity task force said in a statement. “It’s one more step in the right direction to ensure equitable distribution of the vaccine. We must do all we can to make the vaccine available in our most vulnerable communities.”
“This approach will build on the success we have already seen at the BCCFH. Since we began operations, we have been looking for methods to more effectively serve all communities in Baltimore,” Mohan Suntha, M.D., MBA, president and CEO of UMMS said in a statement “With a second mass vaccination site now open in Baltimore City at M&T Bank Stadium, it is the perfect opportunity to redouble those efforts and engage with local communities.”
“We are making progress in reaching the most vulnerable members of our community, but there is more that we can accomplish,” Kevin W. Sowers, MSN, RN, FAAN, president of Johns Hopkins Health System said in a statement. “We also strive to provide the information needed for all members of our community to make science-based decisions when it comes to getting vaccinated.”
Data from the CDC has shown that members of underserved communities are less likely to be vaccinated than the population at-large. And in Maryland, that scenario has borne out in majority-minority communities such as Baltimore City and Prince George’s County.
Maryland ranks 44 out of 50 among states with regards to overall vaccine distribution, according to the CDC.