ANNAPOLIS, Md. (AP) — Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan announced steps on Tuesday to speed up vaccinations against COVID-19 to “get more shots into more arms.”
Hogan said 270,150 doses of the vaccine have been put directly in the hands of frontline vaccinators in the state over the last three weeks. However, as of Tuesday, only 76,916 people have been vaccinated so far, or about 1.3% of the state's population.
“While none of us are thrilled with the pace of this rollout over the first couple of weeks, I can assure you that it is improving every day," Hogan said at a news conference.
The governor said 11,553 people were vaccinated in the state on Tuesday, the highest number so far.
Starting Wednesday, the Republican governor said the National Guard will begin to dispatch emergency vaccination support teams across the state to help local health departments to expand vaccination capacity. Each team will have 14 guard members to help provide logistical support for vaccination clinics.
Hogan also said there has been uneven data reporting of vaccinations that have been administered so that the state can determine where help is needed. The governor said he is issuing an executive order to require all providers to report data to the state within 24 hours after vaccines have been administered. The data will be made public.
Hogan said any facility that has not administered at least 75% of its total first doses may have future allocations reduced until they can speed up vaccinations.
“Any provider that has excess doses will be required to notify their local health department so that those doses can be reallocated," he said.
The governor also said he expects Maryland will get about 72,000 vaccine doses a week for the foreseeable future.
Hogan underscored that the vaccination process is a “massive undertaking” that will take months. At the current pace, Hogan said, the state would expect to have 1.8 million doses by the end of May for about 30% of the state's population.
Earlier Tuesday, the University of Maryland Medical System announced it had administered second dose Pfizer COVID-19 vaccinations to five system employees: two physicians, a nurse, a respiratory therapist and an environmental service worker. They had received their first doses on Dec. 14 and were among the first in Maryland to be vaccinated.
Under Maryland's vaccination plan, the state is now in Phase 1A to vaccinate health care workers, residents and staff of nursing homes and first responders. Hogan said the state has expanded priority populations in this phase. Vaccinations will soon be underway for correctional officers, law enforcement agencies, and front line judiciary staff. Overall, Phase 1A includes more than 500,000 state residents.
An expanded Phase 1B will includes all Marylanders age 75 and older, special needs group homes, high-risk inmates, developmentally disabled populations, continuity of government vaccinations, as well as teachers, child care, and education staff. Phase 1B includes an estimated 860,000 Marylanders. Based on the current pace of allocation, the state expects to fully enter Phase 1B by late January.
The governor also outlined a new Phase 1C to includes all Marylanders ages 65-74, and workers in other critical sectors, including grocery stores, public transit, agriculture production, and manufacturing. Phase 1C includes an estimated 772,000 Marylanders. Based on the current pace of allocation, the state expects to fully enter Phase 1C by early March.
Hogan noted an updated Phase 2 will include Marylanders ages 16-64 who are at increased risk of COVID-19 illness due to co-morbidities, as well as essential workers in critical utilities and other sectors. Overall, Phase 2 includes an estimated 1.1 million Marylanders.