Gov. Larry Hogan said Tuesday that state health and emergency management officials are in active discussions to expand mass coronavirus vaccination sites with counties that have expressed interest in having them.
County Executive Jan Gardner is among the Frederick County leaders who have pushed for a mass vaccination site in the county. The group includes Board of Education President Jay Mason.
Gardner (D) told the Frederick County state delegation last week that she had preliminary discussions with Frederick Mayor Michael O’Connor (D) about using the city-owned Nymeo Field at Harry Grove Stadium as a mass vaccination site, and she has spoken with Hogan’s office about opening a site in the county.
But it’s unclear how far those discussions have progressed.
The vaccination effort in Frederick County is poised to accelerate this week with the arrival of the single-dose shot from Johnson & Johnson, which received approval from the Food and Drug Administration on Saturday. It’s the third COVID-19 vaccine to earn such approval, joining the two-dose vaccines from Pfizer and Moderna.
The arrival of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, and increased allocations from the federal government of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines, meant the Frederick County Health Department and Frederick Health Hospital received 5,070 doses of vaccine, its largest weekly shipment to date.
The previous high was 3,250 doses back in January. For the past two weeks, the county health department and hospital have received fewer than 2,000 combined doses, as the state shifted its focus to getting mass vaccination sites up and running.
“If we can get 5,000 a week, we can really make a lot of progress. So, it gives me a lot of hope that we’re going to see a lot more vaccine this month,” Gardner said Tuesday. “... We’re going to be able to support more locations. We’re going to be able to support a drive-thru, which will do thousands, and so I’m pretty optimistic about this.”
Gardner said Walgreens is getting set to offer the vaccine at three of its Frederick stores on Opossumtown Pike, Key Parkway and Crestwood Boulevard and one in Brunswick on Souder Road.
Walgreens would join a small group of private sector sites in Frederick County already offering the vaccine, which includes the Giant supermarket pharmacy on Kingfisher Drive and the CVS pharmacy in Urbana.
At his Tuesday afternoon press conference, Hogan (R) announced the state was opening a mass vaccination site at the Hagerstown Premium Outlets before the end of the month. That will be the closest one in proximity to Frederick County.
The mass vaccination sites already up and running in Maryland are in Baltimore at the Convention Center and M&T Bank Stadium and in Prince George’s County at the Six Flags America amusement park.
Hogan announced the Six Flags site will begin offering second doses this week and ramp up from 2,000 to more than 4,000 shots per day. He said M&T Bank Stadium will increase its vaccinations ahead of schedule to 4,000 shots per day. And the Baltimore Convention Center will shift focus on getting the vaccine to underserved communities and scale up to 1,000 doses per day.
A fourth mass vaccination site in Maryland will open Thursday at the Southern Maryland Blue Crabs minor league baseball stadium in Charles County, while a fifth site will be up and running by March 18 at the Wicomico Youth & Civic Center in Salisbury.
“This will give us at least one mass vaccination site in every region of the state, which can administer thousands of shots per day,” Hogan said.
He added, “Expanding the hours, the capacity, volume and the number of mass vaccination sites is all contingent on future increases in supply from the federal government.”
The Biden administration announced Tuesday that every U.S. adult will have access to a vaccine by the end of May, pushing up the previously stated timeline from the end of July.
Maryland is now administering a record high average of 35,730 shots per day, according to the governor. That is up from 29,096 last week.
Thus far, the state has administered more than 1.3 million doses, which includes 39,147 first doses and 23,448 second doses into the arms of Frederick County residents.
Hogan announced that no Johnson & Johnson vaccine will be shipped out next week, as the company looks to regenerate its supply after shipping out all of its available doses upon regulatory approval.
He said that he and the nation’s governors were assured by the White House that the next shipment of Johnson & Johnson vaccine will arrive by March 18.
“I can assure you that whatever supply we are able to receive, we are ready to immediately deploy and get it into the arms of Marylanders,” Hogan said.
The governor also announced Tuesday that he was appointing Dr. Robert Redfield, the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention under the Trump administration, to an advisory roll on the state’s COVID-19 response and vaccine rollout.
“We’re very fortunate to have such a renowned expert as Dr. Redfield, that he has returned to Maryland and agreed to join our world-class team of doctors and public health experts,” Hogan said.
Staff writer Steve Bohnel contributed to this report.