Worcester Health Department Rolls Out Central Waiting List For Vaccines

Worcester Health Department Rolls Out Central Waiting List For Vaccines
Vials of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine are pictured during a clinic at AGH. Photo courtesy of AGH

SNOW HILL – Worcester County health officials say a new central waiting list for the COVID-19 vaccine is expected to simplify the registration process and prioritize the elderly.

This week, the Worcester County Health Department updated how it registers individuals for COVID-19 vaccine clinics with the introduction of a single central waiting list for all clinics operated by the agency.

“We know that the previous registration system was frustrating for a lot of community members,” said Health Officer Rebecca Jones. “Registering online can offer convenience but due to limited vaccine supply, appointments on MarylandVax.org were being filled almost as soon as they were posted each week. One of the main questions we’ve gotten from residents is how to get onto a waiting list; previously, those lists were per clinic but they also filled quickly. Keeping one central waiting list without a capacity limit will remove a lot of the stress of rushing to grab an appointment before it is filled.”

Anyone currently on a waiting list for the health department’s vaccination clinics will be added to the new central list.

The waiting list is open to anyone currently eligible under Phases 1A, 1B and 1C of Maryland’s vaccine distribution plan. However, priority will be given to individuals ages 65 and older, per the state’s most recent directive.

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Because vaccine supply is limited, health department officials say they do not expect to post any Worcester County Health Department clinics onto the statewide registration website, MarylandVax.org, for the next several weeks.

Travis Brown, public affairs officer for the Worcester County Health Department, said the agency is instead directing anyone who would like a COVID-19 vaccine and is eligible, to call 667-253-2140 so staff can manually add their names to the central waiting list.

“Once online registration begins again, individuals already on the list will be given priority,” he said.

As of Wednesday, 1,583 individuals were on the health department’s wait list, which continues to grow daily, according to Brown. He said the agency is using its current allocation to go through the list.

“The demand for the COVID-19 vaccine far exceeds the current supply locally,” he said. “We hope we receive a greater allocation of doses from the state moving forward, though we know they are doing their best with the supply they are receiving.”

The health department’s central waiting list will only be used for clinics offered through the health department. When asked if the health department had considered a universal wait list that includes hospital and pharmacy vaccination clinics, Brown said that discussion was ongoing.

“Every agency is working with the same state rules and phases, but we are all operating and scheduling clinics independently,” he explained. “That might make it difficult to move to a universal list of both private sector and public sector clinics. For the time being, we think keeping a single waiting list for health department clinics is the most practical system.”

Vaccination registration will be made available as vaccine supply allows. Clinics are by appointment only for those that meet current eligibility.

The health department encourages individuals looking for a COVID-19 vaccine at a Worcester County Health Department clinic to call 667-253-2140.

Vaccination clinics are made available through a partnership between the Worcester County Health Department, Worcester County Government, Town of Ocean City, Pocomoke City, and the Pocomoke Elks Lodge.

For more information on vaccines, COVID-19, and the current phase of the vaccine distribution plan, visit WorcesterHealth.org.

“We know there’s a lot of desire for the COVID-19 vaccine in our community,” Brown said. “We are committed to getting those shots in arms as quickly as possible. Everything we do is based on the supply of vaccine allocated to us, so please be patient and add your name to the waiting list …”

About The Author: Bethany Hooper

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Bethany Hooper has been with The Dispatch since 2016. She currently covers various general stories. Hooper graduated from Stephen Decatur High School in 2012 and the University of Maryland in 2016, where she completed double majors in journalism and economics.