Howard County is set to receive 1,700 COVID-19 vaccine doses a week from the state for the next month, said Dr. Maura Rossman, Howard County’s health officer.
Rossman, along with County Executive Calvin Ball, schools Superintendent Michael Martirano and other county officials, provided an update Tuesday morning at a news conference at Howard Community College on the vaccine rollout in Howard.
When the county first started Phase 1B vaccinations, the week of Jan. 24, it received 4,500 vaccines from the state; in the following weeks, Howard received 2,000 doses a week and now 1,700 doses per week.
“This amount does not allow us to make a substantial impact on the numbers of people who are currently and patiently enrolled in the preregistration surveys,” Rossman said.
More than 250,000 of the online questionnaires have been completed, expressing interest in getting a vaccine in Howard County, according to Rossman. That number includes teachers and health care workers who live elsewhere but are allowed to get vaccinated in the county because they work here.
“Our health department has continuously received an underwhelming supply while statewide sites and private providers are often seeing increases,” Ball said.
So far, about 50,000 county residents have received their first dose of the vaccine, with more than 20,000 of those coming from the Howard County Health Department. About 6.6% of Howard County residents have received both shots. Both the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines require two doses.
The county is currently focused on completing vaccinations for Phase 1B, which includes public and private school educators, child care professionals, those living in congregate living facilities, adults with developmental disabilities and residents ages 75 or older. All residents, regardless of phase status, are also eligible to preregister for the vaccine.
At Tuesday’s event, fire Chief William Anuszewski also provided an update on the Mobile Integrated Community Health program. Through it, the county has vaccinated 60 individuals with developmental disabilities within their homes, Anuszewski said.
Also this week, many Howard County Public School System staff members are returning to schools Wednesday to prepare for hybrid in-person instruction, which is set to begin a phased-in reopening March 1 and end April 12.
About 75% of staff will return this week to staff the five-day-a-week plan for the district’s students who most need in-person learning, such as students with individualized educational plans and those who were invited to the in-person small group programs in the fall. That group of approximately 4,000 students will return for in-person learning March 1.
The rest of the staff will return one week before their students come back for in-person hybrid learning, which begins March 15 with pre-kindergarten, kindergarten, and first and second grade students. On March 29, students in grades 3 through 6, 9 and 12 will return, while students in grades 7, 8, 10 and 11 will come back April 12.
Martirano said the school system surveyed staff last week to see how many have received at least one dose of the vaccine or are scheduled to receive it, how many are waiting for an appointment and how many are choosing not to be vaccinated at this time.
The health department and Johns Hopkins Medicine have administered a combined 3,700 first doses of vaccines to public schools staff, Martirano said Tuesday. Approximately 60%, or 6,000, of the total school system workforce has received or is scheduled to receive the first dose, he said.
“We have heard from health experts, including Dr. Rossman, that there is a way to ensure the safe return to schools and that the status and pace of vaccination administration should not be an impediment,” Martirano said.
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Baltimore Sun Media reporter Jacob Calvin Meyer contributed to this article.