BALTIMORE (WJZ) -- Health partners in Baltimore announced a partnership with the city to administer vaccines to older city residents.
MedStar Health, Lifebridge Health, Johns Hopkins Medicine, and Johns Hopkins School of Nursing will distribute vaccines targeting older city residents most at-risk with mobile clinics focused first on senior facilities.
Dr. Letitia Dzirasa, the city's health commissioner, said the city will use outbreak data to determine where clinics visit "and prioritize neighborhoods where they know vaccination rates are low."
"These mobile clinics are designed to bring education and clinical support to eligible Baltimore City older adults from transportation or mobility issues might make it difficult to travel to a centralized mass vaccination location," Dzirasa said. "With the help of our healthcare partners, older adults in many Baltimore City independent and assisted living facilities, nursing homes, as well as those experiencing homelessness and living with disability can look forward to receiving the coronavirus vaccine directly where they live in the weeks to come."
"Formed by our experience of hosting dozens of mobile COVID-19 testing sites and dozens of pop up flu vaccination clinics over the course of last year, our mobile coronavirus vaccination clinics will focus on residents who are at greatest risk for negative health outcomes as a result of COVID, starting with the focus on senior housing funds," Dzirasa added.
The city also has plans to visit a number of independent living facilities, assisted living facilities and nursing homes over two months.
During pre-registration visits, residents can ask staff questions about the vaccine. Although vaccine supply remains low, city officials said they will be able to vaccinate around 50 to 100 residents during each visit.
Dzirasa said when more doses are available they will be able to support multiple vaccination teams at the same time. They hope by summer to have 20 mobile teams in the field at once.
"Though this may sound like a small quantity in comparison to our mass vaccination sites, the net impact of focusing our limited resources on the highest risk groups, with limited to no access to sign up online for an appointment or those with the inability to travel to a mass vaccination site, cannot be overstated," she added. "We know that there have been challenges with distribution so far and have urged patience for concern residents as we and our partners are working tirelessly to create non internet based methods of appointments and create opportunities for those residents with mobility or transportation concerns, so that they can still receive their vaccines."
Baltimore City's vaccination website shows appointments through the health department are booked. The city expanded its Maryland Access Point program to better assist those 65+ in registering for a vaccine online.
"They can actually call in and pre-register. They can be put on a waiting list for a vaccine appointment," Dzirasa said.
That MAP phone number for help to register for the vaccine waiting list is (410) 396-CARE (2273).
The mobile clinics will also help with education and clinical support.
Statewide, vaccines are administered by appointment only.
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