BERLIN — A COVID mass vaccination site on the Eastern Shore will likely open in roughly two weeks, Governor Larry Hogan announced on Tuesday.
During his weekly COVID-19 press conference on Tuesday, Hogan outlined the state’s efforts to quickly get vaccines into the arms of those that want and need them, but challenges remain. The state’s ambitious vaccination goals were buoyed somewhat late last week with federal approval of a third COVID vaccine produced by Johnson and Johnson right here in Maryland, but the state is getting roughly 50,000 doses of the recently-approved vaccine and more will not be coming from the federal government for at least the next two weeks.
Meanwhile, mass vaccination sites are now open in Baltimore at the M&T Bank Stadium and at the Baltimore Convention Center, and others will open as soon as this week at other areas in the densely-populated western shore. Hogan announced on Tuesday the Eastern Shore’s mass vaccination site will open in Salisbury in a matter of weeks.
“The Eastern Shore mass vaccination site at the Wicomico Youth and Civic Center will be open no later than Thursday, March 18,” he said. “Tidal Health has been selected as the clinical partner for this Eastern Shore site.”
Hogan said with the opening of the Eastern Shore site in Salisbury, along with other mass vaccination locations in western Maryland and southern Maryland, the state will be able to distribute vaccines more efficiently and faster as long as the federal government continues to supply the doses in a timely manner.
“This will give us at least one mass vaccination site in every region in the state,” he said. “Expanding the number, hours and capacity of all of our max vaccination sites is contingent on further increases in supply from the federal government.”
Hogan said on Tuesday the state’s key COVID metrics continued to decline as the calendar flipped this week from February to March. It was mid-March last year when Maryland and much of the country began to shut down.
“Maryland begins the month of March with more of our kids back in school, more businesses reopening and expanding and with fewer people getting infected and hospitalized,” he said. “We went from all 24 of our counties being in the federal red zone in terms of case rates to now having zero counties in the red zone.”
Hogan said despite the challenges in receiving and administering the COVID vaccines, Maryland continues to outpace most of the rest of the country.
“Yesterday, we hit a critical milestone with more than 40% of Marylanders ages 65 and older having been vaccinated,” he said. “We’re one of the very first states in America to hit this mark.”
Again, the rate at which all Marylanders receive the vaccines relies on a steady stream of doses from the federal government.
“I assure you every dose we receive, we are ready to deploy and get in the arms of Marylanders,” he said. “White House officials have assured us they are working to produce an increase of all of the vaccines by the end of March and throughout April and May to enable us to accelerate the expansion of our state-run max vaccination sites.”
Hogan said the state will continue to supply county health departments, hospitals and other administrators with vaccine, but would not hesitate to move doses around if they are underutilized.
“The goal here is to get the vaccinations from the federal government, deploy them out immediately and into the arm of a person who needs it,” he said. “Doses cannot be allowed to sit on shelves or in freezers while hundreds of thousands of people are desperately trying to schedule an appointment for a vaccine.”