ANNAPOLIS, Md. (AP) — All Maryland residents 16 and up will be eligible to get vaccinated at mass vaccination sites on Tuesday, Gov. Larry Hogan announced.
That same group will be eligible to schedule appointments through all providers starting next Monday, the governor said at a news conference. Residents 16 and up represent Phase 3 of the state's rollout plan.
“Appointments for any remaining individuals in Phase 1 or Phase 2 will continue to be prioritized,” Hogan said. “And Marylanders 16 or 17 years of age will only be able to utilize clinics that are providing the Pfizer vaccine, as it is only one that is currently approved by the (Food and Drug Administration) for ages 16 and over.”
Hogan underscored that not everyone 16 and over will be able to get vaccinated immediately due to insufficient supply. However, he said over the next few weeks in April and May, state officials believe that they will have enough vaccines for people who want it.
“And that's why we're trying to get an organized process," Hogan said. "We don't want to slow down. We want to keep ramping up.”
Maryland residents can preregister for an appointment at a mass vaccination site online at covidvax.maryland.gov. They can also call Maryland’s COVID-19 Vaccination Support Center at 1-855-634-6829. Advocates are available seven days a week from 7:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m.
Maryland has 12 mass vaccination sites around the state available for preregistration, and seven more are opening this month.
This week, three more sites are opening at the Greenbelt Metro Station, Montgomery College campus in Germantown and the Maryland State Fairgrounds in Timonium.
Two more mass vaccination sites will open next week, including at Frederick Community College, and the Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium in Annapolis.
A mass vaccination site is scheduled to open at Ripken Stadium in Aberdeen on the week of April 19, and the state is working to open another site at The Mall in Columbia site that week as well.
Hogan also announced that the state is expanding no-appointment lines. On Friday, the state opened its first no-appointment, walk-up line in Salisbury. On Tuesday, a walk-up line will open at the Hagerstown Premium Outlets site. Next week, a no-appointment line will open at M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore.
“In addition, we will be adding no-appointment necessary lines at each of the other new mass (vaccination) sites that we are opening,” Hogan said. “We want to emphasize that the best way to guarantee a vaccine and to get through the sites faster is still to preregister and secure an appointment.”
There are also nearly 500 pharmacies offering vaccines across the state.
Separately, Hogan defended the administration's purchase of 500,000 COVID-19 tests last year from a South Korean company when states were scrambling to acquire tests. A state audit released last week said the administration failed to follow state procurement regulations.
The audit by the legislatures' Office of Legislative Audits said the lack of a comprehensive written contract precluded effective monitoring, and lawmakers have criticized a lack of transparency in the procurement.
Asked about the audit at the news conference, Hogan described it as “complete nonsense," and he described buying the tests as “probably one of the biggest accomplishments throughout this pandemic.”
Lawmakers have criticized the administration for having to pay an extra $2.5 million for a second batch of tests to replace the initial first batch of 500,000 tests, which cost about $9 million and had not been authorized by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, the audit said.
Hogan said the state ended up using all 500,000 of the tests it acquired.
“I don't have much to say about the report, and I wouldn't change a single thing," Hogan said. "I don't really care what those legislators have to say.”