Essentially half of Carroll County’s total population has received at least one dose of COVID-19 vaccine. A significant chunk of the other half is about to start getting vaccinated now that the Pfizer vaccine has been approved for those aged 12 to 15.
The Carroll County Health Department, which previously was only vaccinating those over 18 because they were receiving only Moderna and Johnson & Johnson vaccines — neither of which are approved for those under 18 — but that changes next week.
“The most exciting thing for us this week is our adolescent clinic for ages 12 to 17,” Health Planner Maggie Kunz told the Board of County Commissioners on Thursday. She noted that the approved Pfizer vaccine was found to be safe and effective by both the Maryland Department of Health and the Food and Drug Administration.
The health department scheduled its first clinic just for the 12-17 age group for May 19 at TownMall of Westminster. Every spot was filled within six hours of the health department posting the registration link, Kunz said. The health department is looking to schedule another for adolescents the following week, dependent upon receiving a large enough allocation of Pfizer vaccine from the state.
Most of the first dose clinics the health department will be holding from now on will take place at TownMall, in the space formerly occupied by Sears. There are Moderna vaccine clinics scheduled for May 20 from 3-7 p.m. and May 27 from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. There’s also a Johnson & Johnson clinic set for June 3 from 5-7 p.m. Registration links are available at https://cchd.maryland.gov/registration-links but registration is not required.
“We certainly do accept walk-ins, it just takes a few extra minutes,” Kunz said.
Commissioner President Ed Rothstein, R-District 5, noted that numerous pharmacies are now offering COVID-19 vaccine and Kunz agreed.
“Now that a lot of folks have been able to get vaccinated it’s easy to walk into just about any pharmacy around here and get vaccinated,” she said. “For those who have 12-to-17-year-olds … a lot of pharmacies now have Pfizer. So that’s another option for parents who don’t want to go to a mass vaccination site but do want to get their kids vaccinated quickly.”
As has been the case throughout the pandemic, Kunz came to the commissioners’ open session armed with health department slides showing charts and graphs filled with data. She called them “good news slides” Thursday as they showed continuing trends of decreasing cases of COVID-19 and fewer hospitalizations for the virus in Carroll County. Last week, Carroll County reported its fewest cases in a week since the end of October.
One slide painted a sobering picture, however, showing that 2-5 people have died from COVID-19 in each of the past six weeks.
“The biggest gut punch for me is still seeing three or four deaths a week,” Rothstein said.
When asked if there had been any deaths caused by the vaccinations in Carroll, Kunz said “absolutely not.”
Another slide showed the rates for COVID-19 by age group in Carroll, illustrating that those aged 18-29 are by far the most likely to become infected, testing positive at 5 times the rate as those over 65, for example.
In terms of vaccine, 49.6% of all Carroll countians have received at least one dose and 39% are fully inoculated. Older adults continue to far outpace younger people in the percentage who have been vaccinated. According to health department data, 86% of those 65 and over have been vaccinated as have 76% of those 60-64. From there it drops to 58% of those in the 50s, 55% of those in their 40s, 50% of those in their 30s, 40% of those in their 20s and 38% of those 16-19.
The demographic group that has been most difficult to reach has been Carroll County‘s Hispanic community. Just 61% of Hispanic resident 65 and over have been vaccinated. That number falls to 46% for those 75 and over. Kunz said the health department will be holding a second vaccine clinic at St. John Catholic Church in Westminster on May 23 in hopes of increasing those numbers.
“We’re hoping to engage additional people in the Hispanic community to come and encourage their friends to come to that clinic as well,” Kunz said.
The commissioners discussed vaccine and virus numbers and also talked about the restrictions lifted by Gov. Hogan this week, including all capacity restrictions. Carroll County, as it has throughout the pandemic, continues to follow the governor’s guidance, so beginning Saturday restaurants and bars will be able to resume pre-pandemic ways of doing things. And Marylanders no longer need to wear masks in most settings, after Hogan’s Friday announcement.
“We’ve been talking about opening the county office building up June 1, to get back to some kind of normalcy. I would think that’s going to be about right,” Commissioner Stephen Wantz, R-District 1 said. “We’re moving in the right direction because of how aggressive we’ve been.”