ANNAPOLIS, Md. (WJZ) -- As COVID-19 vaccinations lag behind distribution in Maryland, Gov. Larry Hogan issued an order Tuesday that says facilities that have not administered 75% of their total first COVID-19 vaccine doses may have their future allocations reduced until they can prove they're able to meet requirements.
"No doses should be sitting in freezers going unused, waiting or backing up, while others are in need of more," the governor said during a news conference Tuesday evening.
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Hogan said the state will be adjusting its COVID-19 vaccine plan: "We're going to be no longer waiting for all of the members of a particular priority group to be completed before we move on to begin that next group and the next group."
"Our message to those who are responsible for doing the vaccinations is clear, either use the doses that you have been allocated or they will be redirected to another facility or provider, where they will be used immediately every single week," the governor said.
The Maryland National Guard will also start assisting in vaccine distribution across the state, Gov. Hogan said.
"We would expect to have 1.8 million doses by the end of May, which would represent only 30% of our state's population, so this is going to be a long haul," the governor said.
Priority lists have also been expanded. The next phase, which health officials expect to enter by late January, will now include Marylanders over the age of 75, at-risk inmates and educators.
Cindy Sexton, President of The Teachers Association of Baltimore County, said the next step is to discuss with school leaders expectations surrounding vaccinations and a safe return back to the classrooms.
"It's a start," Sexton said. "There is a light at the end of the tunnel. "We can't expect that all 15,000 employees of the Baltimore County school system are going to be vaccinated by the end of January. It's definitely going to be a process."
Gov. Hogan added that the state will continue to push out vaccines to hospitals, pharmacies, local health departments and to all the other vaccinators across the state based on need and utilization.
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