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People from out of state outnumber Charles County residents at Maryland’s COVID vaccine site in Waldorf

More people who live outside Maryland have been getting inoculated against COVID-19 at the mass vaccination site in Charles County than residents of that jurisdiction, state data shows.

As of Monday, Charles County residents made up about 6.2% of the first-dose appointments at Waldorf’s Regency Furniture Stadium. Out-of-state residents, meanwhile, had been getting 8.6% of the shots administered there.

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Residents from the more populous Montgomery, Prince George’s and Anne Arundel counties also received more vaccines than Charles County residents, representing 33.4%, 23.5% and 11% — or nearly 68% combined — of the first doses at the Waldorf site, data shows.

The development comes as state health officials acknowledge demographic disparities among those who have been vaccinated and the role the mass sites could play in exacerbating the inequities. At the mass vaccination site in Prince George’s County, for example, Montgomery and Anne Arundel residents made up a combined 49.1% of the vaccine recipients as of Monday. Prince George’s County residents, a majority of whom are Black, accounted for 15% of the appointments there.

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Prince George’s and Charles counties have the lowest vaccination rates in the state.

The percentages also underscore the trade-offs in speed and equity as the state works to balance the overwhelming demand for shots against a limited supply.

Charles Gischlar, a Maryland Department of Health spokesman, said while the state prefers to vaccinate its own residents, “we do not turn anyone away.” As of Thursday, 86,199 doses have been administered to people listed as either out-of-state or “unknown Maryland county of residence.”

He said that group could include teachers, health care workers, or other essential employees who work in Maryland but may live elsewhere.

“Our goal is always to get as many shots in arms as possible,” Gischlar said.

State vaccinators have administered more than 2 million doses as of this week, inoculating as many as 57,550 people in a single day.

Lawmakers, county executives and public health experts say the state-run clinics, while efficient at inoculating people, have not served the people most at-risk of contracting severe disease, which includes people without cars and those lacking digital skills. And a lack of eligibility screens at the mass sites leaves open the possibility of scarce vaccine doses being given to people who do not qualify.

On Monday, Gov. Larry Hogan announced that the state-run mass vaccination sites will set aside 2,100 of appointments per week for residents in each of the jurisdictions where the mass clinics are located to help offset the disparities. But it was not immediately clear what percentage of each site’s total appointments the 2,100-per-week represents.

At the Regency Furniture site, the 2,100 priority appointments will be divided “equitably by population” for residents of Charles, Calvert, and St. Mary’s counties, according to the state.

Hogan announced Thursday that Maryland will expand eligibility for vaccines in a series of phases, starting with adults 60 or older and those with certain health conditions over the next two weeks, as the state anticipates an influx of more immunizations from the federal government.

The state also will start allocating vaccines to primary care practices this week, as hospitals start vaccinating more people and the state’s equity task force runs mobile clinics.

“If [the federal government] delivers as they say they’re going to deliver, April is going to look a heck of a lot different from March,” Hogan said.

The governor also said he’d disclose the locations of the next mass vaccination sites next week.

Officials in Montgomery County acknowledged at a virtual event earlier this month that they had been lobbying the Hogan administration to open a mass vaccination clinic there, calling it an “ideal regional center” for many of the state’s residents. Officials also said their residents had been disproportionately burdened by COVID-19 infections, with more than 65,000 cases confirmed there out of more than 396,000 total in Maryland.

On Thursday, the governor said the state is in discussion “with a number of counties,” including Montgomery.

Baltimore Sun reporters Colin Campbell and Alex Mann contributed to this article.

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