The Maryland Governor’s office over the weekend announced the allocation of the first-round of COVID-19 vaccine available, as the first phase, directly to hospitals, nursing homes, and their front-line staff. This vaccine will be the Pfizer formula.
There has been some uncertainty surrounding the news of the vaccine rollout; however, the Maryland State Department of Health is well-aware of our local situation. The Board of Garrett County Commissioners has been working with our local delegation and has reached out directly to the Governor’s office.
In response, we were made aware that twenty-four of the largest hospitals will receive the vaccine while 22 of the smaller hospitals will not receive the vaccine this week.
The state has signed up all of the state’s 227 nursing homes and 1,668 assisted living facilities for the federal distribution partnership through CVS and Walgreens.
Garrett County has not been left out of the distribution.
While it’s not necessarily ideal to have to wait approximately a week for the second-round (the Moderna vaccine) for the hospital, the Board understands the logistics of the first distribution. The Pfizer vaccine needs extreme cold storage and is prepared in packaging that cannot be split.
“We continue to work with the leadership downstate and, rest assured, Garrett County is slated to receive vaccinations. Note, the first few weeks of distribution will be dedicated to healthcare facilities, their front-line responders, and nursing homes,” said Paul Edwards, Chair, Board of Garrett County Commissioners. “The general public won’t be eligible for a vaccine for several weeks but our local teams are preparing for the rollout.”
Phase 1 of the state’s vaccination plan will begin when there is limited vaccine availability and will focus on target priority groups to receive the vaccination. These groups will include those at the highest risk of exposure to or developing complications from COVID-19, including:
Healthcare workers, residents and staff of long-term care facilities, first responders
People at significantly higher risk of severe COVID-19 illness
Phase 2 will include people in critical infrastructure roles, including essential non-healthcare and transportation workers, and people at moderately higher risk of severe COVID-19 illness.
Phase 3 will be a wide-scale distribution of the vaccine associated with broad availability to the general population of the state.
"Garrett County is in constant contact with the state through Maryland Department of Health," said Garrett County Health Officer Bob Stephens. "The successful rollout of the vaccine will take time and we are confident we will get our share in future shipments."
The Board of County Commissioners has been and continues to advocate personal responsibility during this unique public health emergency. The County and the County Health Officer continue to communicate the Governor’s Executive Orders and personal responsibility advice to the public.
For community members with medical questions regarding Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19), please utilize the Garrett County Health Department website https://garretthealth.org/coronavirus or telephone hotline at 301-334-7698.