ANNAPOLIS, Md. (AP) — Maryland will double its mass vaccination sites to a dozen next month, Gov. Larry Hogan announced as the state began Phase 2A of eligibility for the COVID-19 vaccine on Tuesday for residents 60 and older.
Hogan discussed a call earlier in the day with White House officials, who told governors to expect a significant increase in vaccine supply starting next week and “continuing each week for several months.”
“It’s like the cavalry is finally coming to our rescue, and we’re going to be prepared,” the Republican governor said at a news conference.
Hogan described the call with the White House as “a very hopeful call," with an expectation of “really big numbers” of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, as well as continual increases with the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines.
On Monday, Acting Maryland Health Secretary Dennis Schrader said the state could get between 300,000 and 400,000 doses a week by next week or the week after.
Hogan underscored that the state is continuing to put the infrastructure in place to get shots into arms. Maryland is planning to open six more mass vaccination sites in April, including one in Montgomery County, the state's largest jurisdiction in the suburbs of the nation's capital during the week of April 5 at Montgomery College in Germantown. Another will open that week at the state fairgrounds in Timonium in Baltimore County.
Two more mass vaccination sites are expected to open the week of April 12 in Anne Arundel and Frederick counties. Two more sites in Howard and Harford counties are expected in the following weeks.
The state’s sixth mass vaccination site will open this Thursday at the Hagerstown Premium Outlets.
Starting next Tuesday, Marylanders 16 and older with underlying medical conditions that increase the risk of severe COVID-19 illness will be eligible for vaccination.
Carol Beatty, the head of the Maryland Department of Disabilities, said Hogan's announcement Tuesday for an expansion of Phase 2B to include the disabled will include some of the poorest and hardest to reach of the state's disabled community. She cited research showing that non-elderly people with disabilities who receive long-term support and services in settings other than nursing homes face similar COVID-19 risk factors.
“Like those in nursing homes, many people with disabilities rely on the close physical proximity of caregivers for their daily needs, which limits their ability to adopt preventative measures such as social distancing,” Beatty said.
Maryland has had a total of 401,427 confirmed virus cases as of Tuesday. The state also reported 8,010 deaths during the pandemic, an increase of 11 from a day earlier.
Hogan said people who will be eligible for Phase 2B next week can now begin preregistering for appointments at mass vaccination sites, as well as people Phase 1 or 2A. People can register online at covidvax.maryland.gov or by calling 1-855-634-6829.
On April 13, everyone 55 and over and all essential workers in critical industries will be eligible in Phase 2C. Maryland residents over 16 will be eligible no later than April 27 for Phase 3.
Follow AP’s coverage of the pandemic at https://apnews.com/hub/coronavirus-pandemic and https://apnews.com/UnderstandingtheOutbreak.