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Howard County Health Department begins administering COVID-19 vaccinations to first responders

The Howard County Health Department received its first doses of Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine Wednesday and administered it to some of the first responders from the Howard County Department of Fire and Rescue Services and the Howard County Police Department.

The individuals vaccinated will receive the second dose of the Moderna vaccine 28 days after the first dosage.

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The new vaccinations come nearly two weeks after some front-line workers at Howard County General Hospital received Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine, which also requires a second dose.

“With this vaccine, we have the key to saving lives and ending this pandemic,” Maura Rossman, Howard County’s health officer, said in a statement. “However, until we are able to widely vaccinate the population of the county, we must still adhere to our non-pharmaceutical interventions of mask wearing, socially distancing and not gathering with those outside of your household.”

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As of Thursday, the county’s seven-day rolling new-case rate is 27.41 per 100,000, down from a record high earlier in December with 38.16 per 100,000 testing positive. Howard’s weekly average positivity rate is 5.93%, according to data from the Maryland Department of Health.

Since the beginning of the pandemic in March, 11,222 Howard residents have tested positive for COVID-19 and 174 have died, according to the state.

In Maryland, while the vaccine supply is limited, local health departments are responsible for vaccinating non-hospital providers and first responders, what is being called Phase 1A.

According to the county health department, preparations are underway to vaccinate Howard County health care providers with direct patient care responsibilities, beginning next week as more of the vaccine becomes available.

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In the next few months, Phase 1B individuals — including the elderly, essential workers and individuals with serious underlying medical conditions — will be able to register for vaccination clinics online at marylandvax.org.

The health department said after individuals in phases 1A and 1B have received the vaccine, Phase 2 can begin, which includes people in critical and essential infrastructure roles and those at moderately higher risk of severe COVID-19 illness. By the time Phase 2 begins, the health department also said other health care providers may potentially be able to vaccinate their own patients.

The general population will start being vaccinated during Phase 3.

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