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‘It’s a hopeful day’: Carroll County Health Department doles out first COVID-19 vaccine doses

The Carroll County Health Department on Wednesday administered more than 100 doses of a COVID-19 vaccine to local health care workers and emergency medical staff as part of its initial phase to halt the coronavirus pandemic.

Ed Singer, the health department’s top officer, was among those who gathered at Winters Mill High School’s gymnasium to receive a dose of the Moderna vaccine, and said in a new release that he wanted to demonstrate his confidence in the medicine.

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“As an individual, I am very excited to be vaccinated against COVID-19 because the data shows that it is highly effective in protecting me from infection,” Singer said in the release. “I also feel very safe receiving the vaccination because extensive clinical trials have shown few side effects.”

David Coe, EMS Operations Chair for Carroll County Volunteer Emergency Services Association, and his brother Tom Coe, a firefighter and paramedic in New Windsor, came together to get their first vaccination.

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“It’s a hopeful day,” David Coe said in the news release. “It means the end of the pandemic is coming.”

First responders and high-risk health care workers are included in Phase 1A of Maryland’s vaccination plan, along with hospital staff and long-term care facility staff and residents. Carroll Hospital has begun vaccination of its staff, and long-term care facilities are working with pharmacies to administer the vaccine.

Initial supplies of vaccine are limited, but the health department expects additional allocations will increase access for non-hospital-based health care providers and staff in the coming weeks.

Once most of the individuals in Phase 1A have been vaccinated, the health department will move to the 1B group, which will include people at significantly higher risk of severe COVID-19 illness.

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Phase 2 includes people in essential jobs, and people at moderate risk of severe illness from COVID-19, and Phase 3 will be the general public. Details on each phase are still being determined at the state and local level.

CCHD is not able to provide any vaccine to the general public or register people to receive doses. The vaccination page at cchd.maryland.gov/covid-19-vaccination includes resources and information about safety, efficacy, vaccine ingredients, and more. People should contact their healthcare provider for more information about the vaccination process and their personal health. The health department is looking for volunteers to help with this vaccination effort, and is having sign-ups at mdresponds.health.maryland.gov.

Buddy Buscemi, a Maryland Responds volunteer who has worked at the health department’s testing site, was also on hand at Wednesday’s clinic at Winters Mill.

“This is what’s going to end the pandemic,” Buscemi, a school nurse with Carroll County Public Schools, said in the news release. “It’s the first step forward in returning us to normal.”

Megan Kwiatkowski, who works at Reese and Community Volunteer Fire Department, said in the release she “got the vaccine to protect my family and for my job.”

The Health Department said in its news release that it’s scheduled to receive significant amounts of COVID-19 vaccine starting next week. If the weekly allotment is consistent, CCHS anticipates being able to vaccinate most people in Phase 1A by the end of January.

To assist in planning, health care providers who are not affiliated with a hospital or long-term care facility should submit information for themselves or their practice on the health department’s provider information page at https://cchd.maryland.gov/covid-19-information-for-providers/

The Carroll County Health Department will be reducing services effective Jan. 4, so staff can focus on providing COVID-19 vaccinations and continuing the Ag Center testing site. Services that are currently available will continue, but appointments may be limited.

The Health Department will be closed on Jan. 1 for New Year’s Day.

The Health Department is working closely with many community partners to ask all county residents to help move #CarrollForward together; learn more at https://www.carrollcountymd.gov/residents/carroll-forward/

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