More than 100,000 doses of Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine have begun shipping to Maryland, meaning the state will have enough doses to vaccinate about 90% of its front-line hospital workers by the end of the week, Gov. Larry Hogan announced in a news release Monday.
This week’s shipment, along with additional doses of the Pfizer vaccine, brings Maryland to 191,075 doses in total.
More than 50,000 doses of the Pfizer vaccine were allocated to Maryland last week, as well as 36,075 more this week. Maryland health officials said last week they were told the state’s next allocation of Pfizer vaccines might be reduced. Leaders in several other states were told the same, The Associated Press reported.
Health officials said last week that Maryland could receive up to 300,000 doses of vaccines by the end of the month, though a state health department spokesperson emphasized Monday that was just a projection.
“We will be providing updates on the state’s actual allocations as appropriate, including the total number of vaccines by the end of the month,” said Charles Gischlar, the spokesperson.
Officials did not provide any new information about the reduction in Pfizer doses Monday.
Health care workers as well as nursing home residents and employees are at the front of the line to get vaccines in Maryland. Nursing homes, assisted living centers and group homes have been ravaged by the virus, with more than 2,600 deaths reported statewide during the pandemic — about half of Maryland’s death toll.
CVS will begin COVID-19 vaccinations in long-term care facilities Wednesday in Maryland, an effort that will ultimately vaccinate nearly 109,000 people, the company said in a news release. Walgreens also is expected to start its vaccination program in nursing homes this week, the state said.
Joe DeMattos, president of the Health Facilities Association of Maryland, which represents the state’s long-term care providers, commended Hogan for participating in the program with CVS and Walgreens to prioritize nursing homes to receive the vaccine.
“Nursing homes, their residents, patients and staff, have been on the front lines fighting this virus since day one,” he said.
Eleven other states are beginning to receive Pfizer vaccines in long-term care facilities from CVS this week, according to a CVS release. Vaccinations in 36 additional states will start next week as part of a rollout during which CVS expects to vaccinate up to 4 million residents and staff in about three months,the release continues.
In Maryland, CVS will administer vaccines in nearly 1,800 assisted living and skilled nursing facilities, according to the release.
CVS workers will come to each facility three times to give residents and workers their first and second shots, with most residents and staff expected to be completely vaccinated in three to four weeks. Pfizer and Moderna’s vaccines require two doses, given three and four weeks apart, respectively.
Given the magnitude of the vaccine rollout, it’s “reasonable to assume” that there will be “bumps,” DeMattos said, but he remains optimistic.
“This week is an important one,” DeMattos said. “On the one hand, it’s a time to remain vigilant as we face an incredibly intense surge of COVID in Maryland. And on the other hand, Marylanders will be receiving the vaccine in their arms this week, which is fantastic news.”
Down the road, there will be COVID-19 vaccines at every CVS location nationwide, “subject to product availability and prioritization of populations, which will be determined by states,” the drug store operator said in its news release. People seeking inoculation will need an appointment to get a vaccine in stores, the release said.
CVS eventually will be able to administer 20 million to 25 million vaccines per month, the release said.
“Today’s rollout is the culmination of months of internal planning and demonstrates how the private sector can use its expertise to help solve some of our most critical challenges,” CVS Health President and CEO Larry Merlo said in the release. “I’m grateful for the herculean efforts of everyone involved, including our health care professionals who will be deployed throughout the country to bring peace of mind to long-term care facility residents, staff, and their loved ones.”
Maryland also will provide a “limited number” of vaccine doses for health care workers at Bethesda’s National Institutes of Health, Hogan announced Monday.
“Maryland is proud to be home to some of the world’s leading health systems and medical research institutions, including NIH,” the Republican governor said in a release. “With our earliest vaccinations focused on high-risk populations, we are providing a limited number of doses to NIH in order to vaccinate these Maryland-based front line healthcare workers.
Hogan’s office said local health departments will receive 100 initial doses to make sure logistics are working properly for the first phase of vaccinations.
“Local health officers are encouraged to begin vaccinating their vaccination teams as soon as possible,” the release said.
The Baltimore City Health Department already is planning the distribution order for vaccines when the city receives its first batches in the coming weeks, said Dr. Letitia Dzirasa, Baltimore’s health commissioner.
First responders like police officers and firefighters, who fall within Phase 1B of the state’s vaccine plan, will be first in line once vaccines arrive at the city health department. However, the health commissioner noted that “sub-prioritization” within that category likely will be necessary, because she expects there won’t be enough.
”In the future — so weeks, weeks down the line, when we have more vaccine available — that’s when we’ll get to the point of mass vaccination for the general public,” Dzirasa said. “But that’s phase 2 and 3, not necessarily phase 1A, 1B, which is where we are now.”
Dzirasa said she won’t receive a vaccine until the city’s front-line staff who are testing and vaccinating people get one.
“Those people who are out vaccinating people, those people who are interacting with people at testing sites, they have priority over me,” she said.
Baltimore Sun reporter Colin Campbell contributed to this article.