Volunteers in masks and face shields at 15 coronavirus vaccination stations inside the Baltimore City Community College gym Wednesday propped up their yellow flags — which they raise when they’re ready for their next patient — and waited.
A slow trickle of medical professionals, first responders and others in priority groups walked onto the protective red matting covering the hardwood floor and followed the yellow arrow stickers and barrier belts to the cordoned-off area, where they got their second doses of the Moderna vaccine.
Despite intense demand for vaccines globally, the line was never longer than one or two people. There were 517 second doses of vaccine administered Wednesday, officials said, the first day the Baltimore City Health Department allowed media inside the facility.
“There’s typically a little bit of a wait, not too bad,” said Kim Eshleman, director of the city health department’s Office of Public Health Preparedness and Response.
Eshleman emphasized the critical roles of hospitals, pharmacies and the city’s new mobile vaccination clinic in ensuring everyone can get a vaccine in Baltimore, where one in three people don’t have a car.
“A lot of planning is underway to still get that out,” she said. “We’re looking forward to more doses.”
The city hopes not to have to close the BCCC vaccination site due to snow this week, Eshleman said, but officials will contact those with appointments directly to reschedule if it happens.
At one of the vaccination stations in the BCCC gymnasium Wednesday, Patty Herwig, a nurse at the Kennedy Krieger Institute, pushed a needle into William Bevans’ arm.
Like many of those being vaccinated at the clinic Wednesday, Bevans, a 32-year-old animal control officer who lives in Parkville, had gotten his first appointment Jan. 10 at the former city site in Port Covington through work.
“I’m looking forward to doing my part to get things back to normal as best as I can,” Bevans said.
Herwig said she was honored to be part of the team of volunteers inoculating people across Maryland.
“It’s wonderful people are getting vaccinated,” she said. “We encourage everybody to come out.”
Delaram Doorandish said the second dose she received from Yeisha García, a pharmacy student at Notre Dame of Maryland University, would assuage the feelings of claustrophobia that the pandemic brings on anytime she finds herself in a crowd.
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“I’m relieved to not have to be overwhelmed or paranoid about going certain places,” said Doorandish, a 20-year-old who works as a medical assistant at a gastroenterology clinic.
After his shot, Patrick Mitchell sat in one of the chairs set up 6 feet apart in the observation area, clutching a Post-It note with “1:40″ scribbled on it, his assigned time to leave. Each person getting a vaccine must wait 15-30 minutes to ensure they don’t have a negative reaction.
The 51-year-old, who works at Powell Recovery Center on South Broadway in Washington Hill, was another who got his second shot Wednesday after securing his initial appointment through work.
Mitchell wore a Miami Dolphins mask to his appointment. He can’t wait to catch a 2-hour-and-45-minute flight down for a game and a visit with family in South Florida.
He rattled off a list of activities he’s excitedly awaiting, once enough vaccines are available to push Maryland, and the rest of the country, past the pandemic: “Visiting family, going out, getting on a plane — feeling safe.”