Gov. Larry Hogan on Tuesday announced that former CDC Director Dr. Robert Redfield will serve as a senior adviser of public health in Maryland’s COVID-19 response. Image via YouTube.
Gov. Larry Hogan on Tuesday announced that former CDC Director Dr. Robert Redfield will serve as a senior adviser of public health in Maryland’s COVID-19 response. Image via YouTube.

Maryland will open three additional mass vaccination sites this month and more could be on the way, Gov. Larry Hogan announced on Tuesday.

Hogan also announced that former Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Director Dr. Robert Redfield will serve as a senior adviser for public health in Maryland.

Redfield, a virologist who led the CDC under the Trump administration, will support the help Maryland address new COVID-19 variants, assist with the state’s vaccination campaign, advise Maryland leaders on the state’s reopening plan, and support other aspects of the state’s COVID-19 response.

The developments come as Maryland prepares to receive more vaccines of all varieties, including the single-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine recently approved for emergency use.

Regency Furniture Stadium in Waldorf in Charles County will open as a mass vaccination site on March 4 to serve Southern Maryland. People will be able to register for appointments starting this evening.

The state will open a mass vaccination site on the Eastern Shore at Wicomico Youth & Civic Center in Salisbury by March 18.

A Western Maryland mass vaccination site will open by the end of the month at the Hagerstown Premium Outlets in Washington County.

Maryland currently has three mass vaccination sites in operation at the Baltimore Convention Center Field Hospital and M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore City and at Six Flags America in Prince George’s County.

Hogan on Monday announced that over the next several weeks the Baltimore Convention Center Field Hospital will be launching a pilot program to offer vaccinations to people in underserved communities in six Baltimore City ZIP codes.

The program will help people who lack internet access register for vaccination appointments; provide transportation to and from the convention center; and dispel misinformation about the vaccine.

Hogan said the state is also talking to counties that have expressed interest in hosting sites. However, expanding the number and capacity of mass vaccination sites depends on Maryland receiving more vaccine supplies from the federal government.

Maryland’s vaccination rate hit a record of 35,730 doses administered per day. As of Tuesday morning, about 14.5% of Marylanders had received at least the first dose of the coronavirus vaccine, and about 8% had received both the first and second doses.

“The pace of daily vaccination is hitting a new high every day, a third safe and effective vaccine is now available, a next potential fourth vaccine is in Phase 3 clinical trials, which is also being made right here in Maryland at Novavax in Gaithersburg,” Hogan said in a statement. “We are using every tool at our disposal to get shots into arms, and we will not rest until a vaccine is available to every Marylander who wants one, so that we can bring this pandemic to an end once and for all.”

This week, Maryland will receive 49,600 doses of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine. But Hogan said the federal government has informed states that it will not ship out any Johnson & Johnson vaccine doses next week.

Unlike the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines, which relies on two doses for full effectiveness, the Johnson & Johnson vaccine is administered in a single dose — meaning Maryland will be able to vaccinate nearly 50,000 residents with its initial allocation from the federal government.

Hogan said Maryland is able to increase the allocation of vaccine doses to hospitals, local health departments and other providers that can demonstrate that they are able to administer all of their doses within a one-week period.

This comes after Hogan said last week that Baltimore City had received “far more [doses] than they really were entitled to.”

In a letter to Hogan on Monday, state senators representing Baltimore City said they had “grave concerns about the state’s COVID-19 vaccine distribution strategy” and called vaccine allocation in the city “inequitable.”

The senators, including Senate President Bill Ferguson and Sens. Jill Carter, Antonio Hayes, Cory McCray, Charles Sydnor, and Mary Washington, said pointed to Black residents of Baltimore City comprising less than 6% of those vaccinated despite making up more than 60% of the city’s population.

Of the people who have been vaccinated in Baltimore City, fewer than 40% are Baltimore residents, the senators added.

“The pandemic will continue to impact the public health and economic well-being of our city and state until we ensure an equitable distribution of the vaccine,” they wrote.

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Marcus Dieterle

Marcus Dieterle is the managing editor of Baltimore Fishbowl. He returned to Baltimore in 2020 after working as the deputy editor of the Cecil Whig newspaper in Elkton, Md. He can be reached at marcus@baltimorefishbowl.com...