ANNAPOLIS, Md. (AP) - Maryland will set aside at least 300 priority vaccine appointments each day at a mass vaccination site for residents in the county hardest hit by COVID-19 cases in the state, officials said Wednesday, after local officials in the majority-Black jurisdiction criticized a lack of equity in vaccine distribution.
Prince George’s County, the state’s second-most populous county in the suburbs of the nation’s capital, leads Maryland in the number of total COVID-19 cases during the pandemic with 74,704. There have been 1,317 confirmed virus deaths in the county, the state’s second-highest number.
However, only about 10% of vaccines distributed at a mass vaccination site at Six Flags America in the county went to residents, Prince George’s County Executive Angela Alsobrooks told lawmakers last week. She has been urging the state to put greater emphasis on vaccinating county residents.
“We thank the governor and his administration for working closely with our team to ensure Prince Georgians have increased access to these life-saving vaccines, and we look forward to continued collaboration,” Alsobrooks said in a statement.
The priority appointments will add up to at least 2,100 week for people on the county’s pre-registration list at the Six Flags site. The appointments, which will begin next week, mark an increase from 500 appointments a week that have been reserved for county residents since the mass vaccination site opened in early February, the governor’s office said.
Priority appointments for the Six Flags site will continue to be booked through text-based outreach to eligible residents from the county’s pre-registration list. The county health department has provided information for 30,000 people from its pre-registration list for this effort.
Additional efforts will lead to nearly 10,000 priority appointments each week for Prince George’s residents, the governor’s office said.
For example, the Maryland Vaccine Equity Task Force has worked with county leaders to establish a clinic at First Baptist Church of Glenarden. The clinic will distribute up to 980 shots a day by the end of the month for a total of 6,860 shots each week.
“Through our vaccine equity plan, we are providing county residents with more appointments at Six Flags, a new clinic opening up in Glenarden, ongoing clinics at local pharmacies, and pop-up clinics for underserved communities,” Hogan said.
Also, at least 900 shots a week for county residents are available through pharmacy partnerships, according to the governor’s office. Walmart is holding 500-dose closed clinics for county residents each week at its store in Clinton, as well as 200-dose clinics at its Landover store. Wegmans has started 200-dose closed clinics at its Lanham store.
Giant grocery store is distributing 2,200 doses in closed clinics to vaccinate disabled populations, the governor’s office said.
“We have been working diligently in the county to expand vaccination access for our residents, and these new partnerships and increased access to appointments will help ensure vaccines are being distributed equitably to the hardest-hit jurisdiction in the state,” Alsobrooks said.
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