Some Area First Responders Get Shots

OCEAN CITY — Early COVID-19 vaccinations continued this week at hospitals, nursing homes and local health departments across Maryland, including first responders on the front lines of the pandemic.

According to Governor Larry Hogan’s office, an additional 82,800 doses of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines were allocated this week around the state. Phase 1A of the state’s vaccination plan is focused on front-line healthcare workers, long-term care residents and staff along with first-responders.

Through this week’s allocations, local health departments continue to host vaccination clinics for first-responders, and hospitals will have enough doses to vaccinate all their critical front-line staff. The new allocations also continue to be provided to CVS and Walgreens as they vaccinate nursing home residents and staff.

“This week’s COVID-19 vaccine allocations will allow our first-responders to begin getting vaccinated and help keep them safe while they keep us safe,” said Hogan. “This is another important step as we make our way through the initial phase of our statewide vaccination plan.”

Maryland’s total allotment from the federal government through this week includes 273,875 vaccines, including 140,300 doses of the Moderna vaccine and 133,575 doses of the Pfizer vaccine. Under Phase 1A, healthcare workers, long-term care residents and staff and first-responders will get the vaccines. Under Phase 1B, people at significantly higher risk of severe COVID-19 illness are next in line.

In Phase 2, people in critical and essential infrastructure roles and people at moderately higher risk of severe COVID-19 illness will get the vaccines. In the third and final phase, the vaccines will be distributed to the general population.

Worcester County Health Department Nursing Director Debra Stevens said a vaccination clinic was held Tuesday for first responders.

“With our shipment of 100 doses received late last week, we held a vaccine clinic today (Tuesday) for priority groups which included public health staff conducting COVID testing, COVID vaccinations, EMS providers within the county as well as Ocean City and public-facing law enforcement officers,” said Stevens. “With additional vaccines coming, we will partner with Ocean City EMS who will continue to vaccinate the OC EMS and first responders. We will offer clinics to additional county EMS/first responders and move to additional priority groups as outlined by MDH.”

Ocean City Fire Department spokesman Ryan Whittington said some of the department’s front-line staffers were included in this week’s clinic.

“The Ocean City Fire Department is working closely and in partnership with the Worcester County Health Department to provide COVID vaccinations to our paramedics and first-line field providers,” he said. “As of Tuesday, 13 Ocean City paramedics have been vaccinated. In addition to those vaccinated, 11 have been trained to assist in administering the vaccinations to other front-line workers and, eventually, members of the community.”

Ocean City Fire Chief Richie Bowers said his charges are lining up to get the vaccines as they become available.

“This is a historical event and certainly illustrates the need for community teamwork and partnership to get our arms around this deadly virus,” he said.

Over at the Ocean City Police Department, Deputy Communications Manager Ashley Miller said the department’s employees have completed a confidential survey indicating if they would be interested in receiving the vaccine when it becomes available with answer options yes, no, or unsure at this time.

About The Author: Shawn Soper

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Shawn Soper has been with The Dispatch since 2000. He began as a staff writer covering various local government beats and general stories. His current positions include managing editor and sports editor. Growing up in Baltimore before moving to Ocean City full time three decades ago, Soper graduated from Loch Raven High School in 1981 and from Towson University in 1985 with degrees in mass communications with a journalism concentration and history.