Gov. Larry Hogan said Wednesday that Maryland was nearing the tipping point in its COVID-19 vaccination campaign when the number of available vaccines will soon surpass the number of unvaccinated people who are willing to get them.
“At some point soon, we are going to be shutting down mass [vaccination] sites,” said Hogan, who will tour the state-supported site at Frederick Community College on Thursday afternoon. “Everything is going to be finding those last few people, knocking on doors, calling them on the phone. ‘Hey, you need to get a vaccine.’”
Hogan made the remark during an afternoon press conference from the state house during which he unveiled the “No Arm Left Behind” initiative that seeks to vaccinate as many people as possible through measures like outreach to senior citizens, college students and corporate partnerships.
Maryland officially surpassed 4 million vaccines administered Wednesday, including more than 174,000 into the arms of Frederick County residents.
In a sign of how fast the campaign has accelerated, Hogan said it took the state 94 days to administer the first 2 million shots and just 35 additional days to double that number.
“While 4 million vaccinations is a remarkable achievement, we still have a ways to go before we can declare mission accomplished,” he said.
Almost 75,000 Frederick County residents have been fully vaccinated, which accounts for nearly 30 percent of the population. More than 100,000 county residents have received at least one dose of the vaccine.
Statewide, more than 1.6 million residents have been fully vaccinated either through two doses of the shots from Pfizer and Moderna or the single-dose Johnson & Johnson shot that has been suspended for use in the U.S. due to concerns over rare blood clots.
After participating in a call Tuesday with White House officials, Hogan said the J&J vaccine could be reauthorized for use by the Food and Drug Administration as soon as Friday.
Roughly 82 percent of Marylanders 65 and older and 55 percent of state residents 18 and older have received at least one dose of the vaccine, the governor said. Hogan announced that mass vaccination sites at the Baltimore Convention Center, the Greenbelt Metro Station and Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium will no longer require appointments to get a vaccine.
Those sites join the Premium Outlets in Hagerstown, M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore and the Wicomico Youth and Civic Center in Salisbury as mass vaccination centers that accommodate walk-up visits.
There are now 12 mass vaccination sites across Maryland, including the one at FCC, and Hogan said a 13th will open next week in Howard County at the Mall in Columbia.
“You can’t plan for how many people are going to show up. You can’t know exactly who is not going to make it to their appointment,” he said. “So far, we haven’t dropped off at all. We keep using the same number [of doses] or more, and we’re still making progress.”
That could soon change, however, as more of the unvaccinated population is resistant to getting it.
Hogan acknowledged the state will have to get creative to keep the vaccine in high demand, hence the “No Arm Left Behind” initiatives that include an expanded statewide call center to help people get a vaccine who are homebound or require transportation or technological assistance.
“Next to getting vaccinated, the most important thing you can do is to encourage all of your neighbors, coworkers, friends and family to get vaccinated as well,” Hogan said. “Research shows that people feel more comfortable getting a vaccine when they hear about the experience directly from someone they know or trust. We truly are close to that light at the end of the tunnel. Those of you who have not yet been vaccinated, please go get a vaccine as quickly as you can.”