Frederick County will open its largest vaccination site to date Saturday in the former United Health Care office on Oak Street in Frederick.
The news was announced Friday morning by the county executive’s office. Planning for the site took place for a number of weeks, but contractual details on the lease had to be finalized before it was officially announced.
The new 54,000-square-foot vaccination center will allow 4,000 or more people to get vaccinated per day, which roughly doubles the current capacity of the state-supported mass vaccination site at Frederick Community College.
The Oak Street site will be another state-supported clinic, which means it will receive larger allocations of vaccine. It joins vaccination centers at Scott Key Center and FCC that are run by the Frederick County Health Department and operate by appointment only.
The county health department previously ran a clinic at Butterfly Ridge Elementary School before closing once in-person school went back in session.
The new site opens at a time when demand for the vaccine is nearing a tipping point. Local, state and national leaders say the supply of the vaccine will soon surpass the number of unvaccinated people who are willing to get the shot.
“It is, however, important to recognize that we have at least 35,000 second doses to administer over the next month. So, our operation at multiple locations will continue for a while,” County Executive Jan Gardner said in an email. “The new location allows us to operate very efficiently from a [through-put] standpoint and a staffing standpoint. For instance, we could provide both first and second doses at the same time in this space. We currently keep these clinics separate, but this space could allow the separation in one location.”
Gardner said it is likely the county will consolidate its vaccination clinics at some point.
“Looking long term, I expect FCC will desire to use their field house for normal school uses with the fall semester,” she said. “Bottom line, we will have flexibility with a very high [through-put] location.”
More than 182,000 doses of vaccine have been administered to Frederick County residents, according to the county health department.
Almost 80,000 county residents have been fully vaccinated either through two doses of shots from Pfizer or Moderna or one dose from Johnson & Johnson. That accounts for more than 30 percent of the county’s population.
More than 103,000 county residents have received at least one dose of the two-shot vaccines, which comprises almost 40 percent of the county’s population.
“This [new] site is one more way we will be working to efficiently vaccinate our Frederick County residents, along with our community-based clinics that will reach smaller communities directly,” said Rissah Watkins, the director of planning, assessment and communications for the Frederick County Health Department.
“It takes a lot of time and effort to supply and staff a vaccination clinic,” Watkins added. “So, we are being proactive to ensure that our Frederick County community has the resources we need for the future of this response. This new site was otherwise unoccupied and can become a more constant location if needed.”