March 5, 2021
This week, Maryland is up to 15.8% of our population vaccinated, and Montgomery County is above that average at 16.3%. In great news, 40% of Marylanders 65 and over are now vaccinated. This number will increase steadily in the next few weeks. We are also doing very well in metrics for administering our second doses, which some other states are finding more challenging.
In the New York Times ranking of states based on the percentage of population vaccinated with at least one dose, we are ranked 31st out of 50 states.
Our weekly vaccine allocation went up from 118,000 to about 200,000 this week. This includes almost 50,000 Johnson & Johnson vaccines which will be administered over several weeks (we don’t expect another J&J allocation until mid-March). President Biden also announced plans to ramp up vaccine production to a level that will have a vaccine for every adult by the end of May. This is amazing news and requires we really ramp up our ability to distribute vaccines.
While there is great news to report, there are also some areas of concern. For example, state data reveals that while Latinos make up 11% of the Maryland population, they have received only 4% of the vaccine. And data also reveals that in Montgomery County, the vaccination rate for people aged 75-84 exceeds the vaccination rate for people over 85. Our oldest community members and racial and ethnic minorities still need help getting vaccinated. We have technological, transportation, and logistical barriers to address.
Ernst & Young Contract
Why has Maryland been ranked so low in the percentage of doses received actually being administered? Getting to the bottom of that is one reason we have contracted with Ernst & Young. In addition to providing support to the Vaccine Equity Task Force, these consultants have helped the state identify 25,000 doses that were allocated from Maryland to the Federal Long Term Care partnership but left unused. They will be coming back to the state for redistribution.
On top of that, they have identified an issue with the reported federal allocation to Maryland. The Governor reported that there are more than 200,000 doses that have been sent to Federal agencies to vaccinate their Maryland workforce in this accounting. These doses are not part of the state-controlled allocation, and many are still unused (much to the frustration of our federal workforce!). I will share more information on this as it becomes available.
Infant and Toddler Childcare & K-12 Teachers
President Biden has asked the partners in the Federal Pharmacy Partnership to prioritize educators in March. That means CVS and Walgreens are now taking appointments for in-home (including nannies) and center-based childcare providers and public and private school teachers. President Biden’s goal is to have every childcare provider and PK-12 teacher vaccinated with at least their first shot by the end of March.
The other pharmacies (Giant, Safeway, Rite Aid, WalMart) participate in the state program and may not choose to prioritize educators. The state mass vaccination sites are taking appointments for childcare workers and other educators. Click HERE for my list of contact information for vaccine sites including pharmacies, hospitals, and mass vaccination sites.
Montgomery County (in partnership with Johns Hopkins/Suburban Hospital) is on track to having offered a vaccine to every MCPS employee heading back to the classroom in the first phase by March 15.
Mobile Vaccination Units & Home Visit Vaccines
The state is launching three mobile vaccination units. They will be initially deployed to the Eastern Shore and Western Maryland. We will also be using FEMA trucks to do mobile vaccinations. A number of other jurisdictions, including Prince George's County, also have mobile vaccination units.
Montgomery County is still working on getting vaccines to our homebound population. Montgomery County’s pilot of this program was delayed, but began this week and will expand in the coming weeks. If you are among the 3,500+ Montgomery County residents who pre-registered for the vaccine and are homebound, you will not be left behind.
Six Flags Data
For people with reliable transportation, the drive-through Six Flags mass vaccination site has proven incredibly popular. This drive-through site is vaccinating more than 2000 people a day, and the largest number of appointments have gone to Montgomery County residents. Of the first 34,396 doses administered, 10,603 went to Montgomery County residents. 5,236 Anne Arundel, 4,179 Howard County, only 3,538 to Prince George's County.
New Mass Vax Sites
The Waldorf Blue Crabs/Regency Furniture Stadium opened yesterday. (about 75 minutes from Bethesda)
Wicomico Youth and Civic Center on the Eastern Shore will open on or before March 18th. (about 145 minutes from Bethesda)
Hagerstown Premium Outlets will open at the end of March. (50-60 minutes from Bethesda)
These are in addition to the Six Flags drive-up site and M&T Bank Stadium. Additionally, since the students at Quince Orchard and Richard Montgomery are going back to school (yay!), we won’t be able to use those sites for County clinics anymore. The Montgomery County Government is planning to open a new large vaccination site at the Montgomery College Campus in Germantown. **This site will be operated by the County, by invitation only, and is not available on massvax.md.gov**
As has been reported in the press, there is still no plan for a mass vaccination site run by the State in Montgomery County. Hopefully, this will change in the near future as vaccine availability increases.
MD READY Text Alerts
If you are trying to get an appointment at a State mass vaccination site, make sure to sign up for text alerts by texting "MDReady" to 898-211. Just before appointments open up at different mass vaccination sites, a text alert is sent to everyone on the list. Since appointment availability changes as vaccine allocation changes and new sites are opening throughout the month, this is a helpful alert system.
Statewide Pre-Registration System
The state will launch its pre-registration website in mid-March, so look for more information on how to sign up in next week’s email.
Progress on Vaccinating Seniors
The Governor announced this week that Maryland has vaccinated 40% of people age 65 and older. Here in Montgomery County, the numbers are also increasing.
This week the Montgomery County Health Department sent invitations to everyone 75 and over who has pre-registered with the county.
If you pre-registered and did not receive an invitation, check your junk mail! If you still have no invite, you should email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 240.777.2982 and answer "yes" three times (MoCo resident, over 65, need assistance with the form). The agent will prioritize you for an appointment.
The County will continue vaccinating people over 75 and has also begun sending invitations to people 65-74. Invitations for the next batch of seniors will not just be sent “first come first served” but rather also based on your zip code. The County has prioritized zip codes into tiers based on where COVID is spreading most actively within the County. Since District 16 zip codes are all in Tier 3 & 4, if you are in a hurry for a vaccine, I encourage you to seek an appointment through a pharmacy, hospital, or mass vaccination site. If this is not possible for you, an invitation will come from the County once they begin prioritizing your tier as long as you are pre-registered.
According to state data (as of March 2nd), the percentage of Montgomery County seniors vaccinated varies by age:
85+ --- -- 58% vaccinated
75-84 68% vaccinated
65-74 33% vaccinated
The Gender Gap
Among the people being vaccinated, there is also a sizable gap between women and men:
17% of Montgomery County women are vaccinated
11.5% of Montgomery County men are vaccinated
There are a couple of factors influencing this gender gap. Women are disproportionately represented in healthcare, education, and other essential workforce fields. Women also tend to live longer and are slightly overrepresented in the older populations. However, recent polling also indicates that men may have higher vaccine hesitancy and refusal rates than women. This is particularly concerning because men have higher death rates from COVID than women. Please encourage the (other) men in your lives to get vaccinated.
Update on People 85+
While we are making great progress vaccinating seniors, we are seeing a slower rate of progress in vaccinating the population 85 and over. According to state data, just over 42% of people 85+ in Montgomery County are still unvaccinated. For comparison, the percentage of unvaccinated Montgomery County residents aged 75-84 is only 32%.
How can we explain this?
All residents of Nursing Homes and nearly all Assisted Living facilities (99%) have received an opportunity for a vaccine through the Federal Partnership with CVS and Walgreens. CVS has information available here tracking the progress of this program nationwide.
However, many people 85+ in Montgomery County live on their own or with loved ones in apartments and single-family homes. These residents may find it more difficult to secure appointments online, and they may face challenges with transportation. The mass vaccination sites are not easily accessible by bus or Metro, and even the Montgomery County Health Department clinics are difficult to get to for those who don’t drive. (The County does offer transportation assistance to residents over 50 and adults with disabilities. Call 301-738-3252 or email ConnectARide@AccessJCA.org.)
Many of our seniors are dependent on public transportation, and thousands of seniors are completely homebound, awaiting home visit programs. Please reach out to assist your neighbors and any seniors you know who might need a hand with registering and scheduling an appointment. I know so many of you have already been doing this.
County Vaccine Pre-Registration Request
The County Health Department is also expanding its reach. They are asking anyone who qualifies as an essential worker in County Phase 1B or 1C to pre-register immediately if they have not yet done so, to enable them to receive an invitation in the coming weeks. This includes:
- Foodservice workers
- Construction workers
- Public transit workers
- Postal service workers
- Grocery store workers
- Bank employees
For a complete list of the workers included in this group, look here at Phase 1C, Tier 1, and 3.
The County Health Department also wants anyone with pre-existing conditions that would qualify them under County 1C (State Phase 2) to make sure they are pre-registered. For a list of specific eligible conditions please look under Phase 1C, Tier 2
. More information about requirements for documentation for this category will be available soon.
If you are pre-registered with the County but have received your vaccine elsewhere, please remove your name from the pre-registration list so that a neighbor still in need of a vaccine can get an invite. You can remove your name by sending an email to email@example.com
Local Students & Teachers Volunteer to Help
The Washington DC Edlavitch Jewish Community Center & George Washington University Hillel have teamed up to match up seniors seeking appointments with tech-savvy students to help them with securing vaccine appointments. You can learn more about the program here and fill out the form to be matched with a student here.
District 16’s own Walter Johnson High School Democrats are also volunteering to help local seniors, child care providers, and other essential workers find appointments. These students are trained in finding appointments at local pharmacies, hospitals, and mass vaccination sites in Maryland. To be partnered with a WJHS Young Democrat, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Maryland Vaccine Hunters - is a group of volunteers on Facebook who provide helpful tips and direct assistance in obtaining vaccination appointments.
MoCoVax.com - created by two MCPS students, this website tracks availability at vaccination sites in the county and can send alerts when appointments are available.
*** While most volunteers are kindhearted individuals, our neighbors and friends offering a helping hand, some unscrupulous individuals are preying on vulnerable seniors by misrepresenting themselves as volunteers in an effort to collect credit card information.
Under no circumstances will a volunteer seeking to help you secure a vaccine appointment need your credit card or social security information.***
STATEWIDE FOCUS ON EQUITY
Maryland this week became the first state to announce an equitable distribution plan for vaccines. Learn more here. This project will enable Montgomery County community organizations to partner with vaccinators to set up local clinics to meet people where they are within the community.
New Mass Vax Sites Exclusively for Hard to Reach Populations
The Baltimore Convention Center vaccination site will provide 100% of their vaccines to hard-to-reach populations in targeted zip codes in Baltimore. In partnership with Johns Hopkins and the University of Maryland Medical Systems (UMMS), this vaccination site will pilot a program focused on increasing vaccine access for hard-to-reach populations that we hope to expand across the state. This site is doing targeted outreach using phone lists from community partners to invite people to appointments.
Partnerships with Houses of Worship
- First Baptist Church of Glenarden, opening in March in partnership with UMMS, will be capable of providing 900 doses every day in Prince George’s County.
- Sacred Heart of Jesus Catholic Church in Baltimore, in partnership with Johns Hopkins, will continue ongoing clinics, increasing volume over time.
- Kingdom Fellowship in Silver Spring, in partnership with Holy Cross Hospital, beginning a pilot project with 100 doses this week.
- New Shiloh Baptist Church in West Baltimore, in partnership with Safeway, will vaccinate 250 people this weekend.
Partnerships with Community Organizations
The Equity Task Force will review proposals for partnerships will community organizations interested in supporting vaccine clinics. Community partnerships will be prioritized based on variables including amount of population over 65, unemployment rate, percent of the population over 25 with no high school diploma, minority composition, rate of single-parent households, number of households with no vehicle, total number of COVID cases, number of households with people sharing bedrooms, population with annual income below $49,000, and % of the local community vaccinated. Upcoming partner organizations include the Muslim Community Center of Montgomery County and Casa de Maryland.
Helpful Materials for Outreach in English and Spanish
Montgomery County’s age-adjusted COVID death rates show alarming disparities based on race and ethnicity. While white residents have died at a rate of 94 per 100,000 residents, the age-adjusted death rate for black residents is nearly twice as high at 183 per 100,000 residents. For Hispanic residents, the age-adjusted death rate is an astounding 256 per 100,000 (nearly 3x that of white residents).
Unfortunately, despite these higher death rates, our Latino and Black communities are not getting vaccinated at as high a rate as the white population- even when adjusted for age.
To help facilitate vaccine access for the Latino population, the Walter Johnson High School Democrats developed this flyer in English and Spanish. This handy quarter page flyer is being used in local health care offices and retail stores that serve our Spanish-speaking community members. The flyer shares the phone numbers and websites for the County pre-registration program and for the state mass vaccination sites. It is presented in English and Spanish because the students recognize that the preferred language for reading can vary across generations within the same household.
In addition, the Maryland Latino Legislative Caucus has developed a COVID Vaccine Myth vs Fact sheet in English and Spanish. This full-page color flyer addresses common misperceptions about the COVID vaccine.
Please print and distribute these resources if you can. They are useful for community bulletin boards, churches, child care centers, small businesses and restaurants, and other public facilities. We must all do our part to support the vaccination efforts.
More Vaccination Opportunities Coming Soon
In addition to the Equity Task Force, the state has begun supporting vaccine clinics throughout the community in high-density senior housing developments. One such community in District 16 vaccinated over 100 seniors this week at an on-site clinic! The volunteers who worked with the state to conduct the clinic are putting together a "playbook" to make it easier for future community groups to replicate their model.
We are still working with pharmacies and hospitals to organize on-site clinics in communities where seniors are still unvaccinated, please reach out if you think your location would be a good fit. You must be able to provide volunteer support to facilitate the clinic and specific numbers of vaccine-eligible residents.
In addition, as vaccine allocations increase and we move into state Phase 2 the state still plans to partner with doctor's offices and urgent care clinics to distribute the vaccine directly through health care providers. However, this likely won't happen until after all the mass vaccination sites are up and running.
In closing, thank you all for your continued patience and constructive feedback about the vaccination efforts. As difficult as this has been, I have been impressed with the strength, resilience, and compassion of our local community. It is truly a pleasure to represent the residents of District 16.