Baltimore City Health Department officials said they are canceling some COVID-19 vaccination appointments scheduled for next week at the Baltimore City Community College mass vaccination site due to overbooking “hundreds” of first-dose appointments.
The department did not specify how many appointments would be canceled, or how exactly the error came about. A statement from the department said it was working to identify potential issues in the state’s PrepMod scheduling system, “as well as the potential that links to second dose appointments were shared via email or social media.”
“We are working to confirm that this situation will not occur moving forward,” the statement read. “To be clear, second dose vaccination appointment links are solely for the use of the recipient, and are not meant to be shared with others.”
Officials said they are prioritizing giving second doses to people who have already gotten their first shot, due to limited inventory. Both of the available vaccines in the United States require two doses of vaccine for maximum protection, 21 and 28 days apart.
People whose appointments are canceled will receive an email with instructions to sign up with an area health care provider through coronavirus.maryland.gov. Those over 65 years old will also be able to call the Maryland Access Point call center at 410-396-2273, or fill in an interest form.
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Appointment slots have been difficult to procure as national vaccine inventory remains low. The process of registering for appointments has been especially difficult for seniors, those without digital fluency skills and low-income individuals.
But pressure has intensified on the mass vaccination campaign as the COVID-19 death toll continues to rise, and as more contagious mutants of the virus surface. A new, more contagious variant that had circulated widely in the United Kingdom has been detected in the U.S., and could be the dominant strain in the country by March.
Public health experts said supply is expected to grow exponentially as soon as this spring after more products likely come online and more mass clinics, pharmacies and hospital systems ramp up vaccination efforts. And newly inaugurated President Joe Biden, a Democrat, announced Tuesday evening a roughly 16% boost in deliveries to states over the coming weeks.
State health officials have urged people to have patience as more vaccination appointments become available. People also are encouraged to adhere to social-distancing, mask-wearing and hand-washing guidelines.
The state receives an average of about 10,000 vaccines per week. Under current eligibility guidelines, about 2 million to 3 million doses will be needed to move on to the next phase.
Maryland vaccinators have fully immunized approximately 1.10% of the state’s population as of Friday. Some 406,168 people have received their first dose, state data show.