With a COVID-19 vaccine on the horizon, the Frederick County Health Department is ramping up its plans to be able to distribute the vaccine once it is available. Part of that planning includes an online survey to gauge from county residents whether they’d get the vaccine.
Much of the planning remains in flux, as it is presently unclear when the vaccine will be approved, when it will arrive in the county and how much of it will be initially available.
But the ability to plan for a vaccine is a hopeful sign during some of the darkest days of the entire pandemic.
On Wednesday, there were 122 new cases of COVID-19 in Frederick County and one related death.
At Frederick Health Hospital, there are now more coronavirus patients (58) than at any point during the pandemic after 12 more were admitted from the previous day. There are seven coronavirus patients in the hospital’s 19-bed intensive care unit.
Although the initial supply of the vaccine will be limited in the county and elsewhere, the hope is it will begin to slow the spread of the disease and eventually bring the pandemic to an end as it ramps up over time.
“We are grateful for and proud of our strong community partnerships that have allowed us to prepare aggressively and respond innovatively to the COVID-19 pandemic. Now we are pulling together to get ready for distribution of a COVID-19 vaccine,” said Dr. Barbara Brookmyer, Frederick County Health Officer.
Gov. Larry Hogan said Tuesday that Maryland would likely receive 155,000 doses of vaccine in its initial batch, which could arrive as early as Monday, and might have as many as 300,000 by the end of the year.
That won’t be enough to cover everyone being prioritized to receive it first, front-line health care workers and the residents and staff of nursing homes.
But Hogan said the state will receive more supply with each successive week and eventually, as municipalities work their way through front-life health care providers, nursing home residents and staff, first responders, essential workers and those most at risk to severe illness, everyone who wants the vaccine will be able to receive it.
It could be widely available to the general public this spring.
“Things are moving rapidly. So, we’re developing things as we get guidance from the state and input from our local partners,” said Rissah Watkins, the director of planning, assessment and communications for the Frederick County Health Department.
The county health department is presently conducting an anonymous survey online to gauge how residents feel about the vaccine.
Watkins said the survey results could be made available next week and impact the county’s vaccination efforts.
“The survey results will definitely be taken into account as we plan, and especially as we develop messaging to address people’s questions and concerns,” she said.