This week Anne Arundel County Health Officer Dr. Nilesh Kalyanaraman discusses:
• COVID-19 Vaccine Distribution
Welcome to our weekly health update. We’ve gotten a lot of questions about the COVID vaccines and how they’re being distributed. The Maryland Department of Health distributes vaccines to hospitals, pharmacies, local health departments, and a few other small groups. So far, less than 25% of the total vaccine has been given to local health departments.
The first week, the week of Christmas, we got 100 vaccines. The second week, we got 2,500 doses. The third week, we got 5,000 doses. This week, our 4th week, we got another 5,000 doses. We expect that this is the most we’ll get each week for at least the next month.
At the Health Department we’ve built teams that can give 5,000 first dose vaccinations each week. And in a few weeks, once we start giving out second doses, we’ll increase our capacity to a total of 10,000 doses each week, 5,000 first doses and 5,000 second doses. Right now we’re pulling people from other duties to do this. That’s why we’re now hiring 120 people to sustain this vaccination effort over the year. If you’re interested in a role as a nurse, vaccinator or site support, visit our website at aahealth.org and apply for one of these positions.
A lot of you want to know when it’ll be your turn to get the vaccine. Right now we’re in Phase 1a vaccinating health care workers. In one to two weeks we’ll start Phase 1b vaccinating educators and those over 75. The problem is that there isn’t enough vaccine for everyone who wants it now. Our prioritization list, based on CDC and MDH guidance, is how we can most equitably vaccinate with our limited supply. I know the pace is frustrating. Bear with us. When the vaccine supply increases we’ll be ready, along with primary care providers and pharmacies, to get those shots out.
Right now the case rate is over 60 and rising. Hospitalizations are high and continue going up. We’re seeing 20 deaths a week which is what we saw in the spring. We need to make a big push for the next one to two months to get through the worst of cold and flu season and get more people vaccinated. We have to keep limiting our activity, wearing a mask, distancing and washing hands. In a couple of months we’ll be in a better position. It’s easy to think that because vaccines are here, that everything is ok. It’s not. It’s only when vaccines are in enough arms that we’ll be through the worst of it. So stay vigilant.
Remember, stay safe, be kind to yourself and others, and mask up. We’ll see you next week.