ANNAPOLIS, Md. (WJZ) — 5235347
"With the anticipation that the federal government will be able to address supply chain issues, and that they will increase deliveries to the states, we have directed the Maryland Department of Health and the Maryland National Guard, to work with county leaders with hospitals and private partners to establish mass vaccination sites at six central locations statewide," Hogan said.
Hogan said hundreds of National Guardsmen currently protecting the U.S. Capitol in D.C. will be reassigned immediately to help plan, build an launch these vaccinations sites by the end of the week.
A state testing location at Six Flags America in Prince George's County will now become a vaccination site by Feb. 5, the governor said.
Hogan said Baltimore City's Health Department in partnership with the University of Maryland Medical System will open a mass vaccination site at M&T Bank Stadium as soon as the state receives higher allotments of the vaccines.
However, in order to get vaccines into city residents faster, the Baltimore City Convention Center will be providing vaccinations by Feb. 5.
"The Convention Center is one of the most advanced COVID care sites in the country," Hogan said. "We opened it in the spring as a field hospital for search capacity. We then expanded it to become our highest performing testing center. And then later to include an infusion center for groundbreaking antibody treatments. And now it will also begin to provide vaccinations to the general public."
He said the state is working to finalize mass vaccination sites in southern and western Maryland as well as along the Eastern Shore. In addition, vaccinations will be distributed to more pharmacies, including Safeway and Rite Aid stores.
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FEMA announced Tuesday it was providing Maryland with $219 million in federal funding to support the state's covid-19 vaccination program.
Starting Feb. 1, the state will expand vaccination eligibility for those that are severely immunocompromised, such as those receiving chemotherapy, those with certain immune disorders or those who require frequent medical care. Those individuals can get vaccinated through their hospital-based providers.
"After everything that we've all been through over the past year, I know that people are really sick of this virus," Hogan said. "We're completely fed up and frustrated right now. Trust me, I know exactly how you feel. No one is more frustrated than I am and no one is more eager to get this pandemic behind us than I am. We can't fix all of these problems by ourselves. We can't fix them overnight, but I can assure you that we will keep doing everything that we possibly can to push the federal government for more vaccines."
"We're going to leverage every possible resource we can find to support the vaccinators to help them get shots into arms as quickly as possible and we will not rest until the vaccine is available to every Marylander who wants one," the governor continued.
State officials are hopeful that other vaccines get approval through the FDA soon to help with the lack of doses available.
A total of 12 million doses will be needed to vaccinate every Marylander. Each person must have two doses to be deemed completely vaccinated from COVID-19.
Right now, two million people are eligible to get the vaccine but the state has gotten just a fraction of that number of doses -- roughly 667,000.
"I asked all Marylanders to, as difficult as it is, to please be patient with the vaccination providers," Hogan added. "They're all doing the very best they can with really limited resources."
"I also would ask you that when it is your turn to get the vaccine to please be ready to get that vaccine," he said.
Anne Arundel County Executive Steuart Pittman expressed frustration that the demand is exceeding the supply of doses to his county and others in the state.
"We got 100,000 people pre-registered; we've only been getting about 5000 doses per week... this last week they cut us to 3000," he said.
Signing up online hasn't been a smooth process for everyone, either.
"People were on the Giant website yesterday, someone told me for seven hours and others said it kept crashing," Pittman said.
Dr. Panagis Galiatsatos, an assistant professor with Johns Hopkins' division of pulmonary and critical care medicine, said he has experienced issues trying to help his elderly signed up.
"If we want to make sure those patients, the shots get into the right arms of the patients, we have to have a system to make it as easy as possible for them," he said.
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