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Despite being ‘swamped,’ Carroll County nearing completion of coronavirus Phase 1A vaccinations

Carroll County should be finished with Phase 1A of COVID-19 vaccinations within a week, county health officials told the Board of Commissioners on Thursday.

Phase 1A includes health care workers, first responders, and nursing home residents and employees.

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Once complete, Phase 1B should begin next week, said health department planner Maggie Kunz. That group consists to Maryland residents who are 75 years and older; Marylanders in assisted living, independent living, developmental disabilities/behavioral health group homes, and other congregate facilities; high-risk incarcerated individuals; continuity of government vaccinations; and education, including K-12 teachers, support staff, and daycare providers.

This week’s delivery of vaccines is set to be administered next week, Kunz said, which gives the health department a little time to plan and be sure people are properly registered for their dosage.

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Board president Ed Rothstein, R-District 5, asked Kunz if the health department knew the percentage of people from Phase 1A who were eligible for the vaccine but haven’t received it, compared to those who aren’t interesting in participating.

From there, fellow commissioner Eric Bouchat, R-District 4, asked Kunz if there was a way for the board to see a breakdown of how many Carroll countians fall into each vaccination category.

“I will do my best to get some of that information for you, but it may not be right away,” Kunz said. “We’re all hands on deck right now trying to get the vaccine out and trying to get information to people who really want to get vaccinated. We’re just swamped.”

Kunz told the commissioners that a little more than 100 people were vaccinated two weeks ago. Last week, she said, that number surpassed 1,100. This week, she said, was up to 700 vaccinations through Wednesday.

“Our goal is, every week, to get out all the vaccines that we have,” Kunz said.

Ed Singer, the county’s top health officer, joined the Carroll County Board of Education meeting Wednesday night and spoke to the board about vaccines. Singer, like Kunz during the commissioners meeting, said the health department’s aim is for the vaccination process to be orderly and efficiently.

But Singer encouraged the public to follow the state’s plan and wait for the proper phase to take effect.

“We’re not going to waste any vaccine. We’re not going to leave any sitting in the refrigerator,” Singer said during the school board meeting. “But the important thing for the public to know is there is a process. We’re going through our priority order. If you show up at our clinic and you’re not in the appropriate priority group, and you don’t have an appointment, you’re going to be turned away.”

Kunz promoted an interest form — not a registration form, she said — on the health department’s website designed for people age 65 and over who have conditions that put them at a greater risk of a serious illness from COVID-19. People in that category can fill out the online form, Kunz said, in an effort to help the health department plan its next vaccination move.

People can also call the health department’s COVID-19 call center (410-876-4848), Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., with any questions and for more information.

Kunz said the health department is preparing to expand its capacity once more people are ready for vaccines, with some 1,400 doses set for next week and a round of second doses as well. The health department requested National Guard assistance, Kunz said, and if that happens an additional vaccination site could be created. Kunz said the health department is still working on those logistics.

“We continue to get amazing help from our community partners to help run these clinics,” Kunz said. “A lot of county staff has been helping us at the clinics and has just been essential. Just great to work with, very helpful and very upbeat.”

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Rothstein praised the health department staff for its efforts as the county’s vaccination process continues and people keep getting tested for COVID-19.

“We appreciate you, Ed, and the entire team,” Rothstein said. “I continue to hear praise and strong positive comments about what’s happening as far as the testing site. The professionalism, the courtesy, the care that’s being shown. Because nobody wants to go there and get tested … last night I got another message about just how well they’re being taken care of.

“So continue to share that and we’ll continue to share that as well.”

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