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The COVID-19 Vaccine Distribution Plan in Maryland

  • En español | Maryland is now administering COVID-19 vaccines from Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna to adults 75 and up as part of its Phase 1B priority group. Maryland initially focused on Phase 1A, which includes health care workers, first responders, correctional officers and residents and staff of nursing homes. On Jan. 18, the state opened vaccines to people in its Phase 1B priority group, including people 75 and up, assisted living facility residents and staff that weren't covered in Phase 1A, teachers, people with developmental disabilities and certain high-risk inmates. You'll need to contact one of the state's vaccine locations to schedule an appointment.
  • Next in line is Phase 1C, which includes Marylanders 65 and up and grocery store, public transit, agriculture and manufacturing workers. After Phase 1C is Phase 2, which includes people over the age of 16 with significant underlying medical conditions. Phase 1C is expected to gain access to vaccines on Jan. 25.
  • Vaccine news is changing quickly. Check this guide for updates in days ahead.
Montgomery County administers 4,000 doses of the Moderna vaccine to healthcare workers and first responders, on December 30 in Silver Spring, MD.
A woman receives a COVID-19 vaccine at a clinic in Silver Spring.
The Washington Post/The Washington Post via Getty Im

When can older adults get the vaccine? 

People 75 and up and the rest of the state's Phase 1B priority group can schedule a vaccine appointment. People between the ages of 65 and 74 are expected to be able to get a vaccine beginning a week later, on Jan. 25. Demand for the shots has far exceeded supply in other states that have begun vaccinating older adults. It may take several weeks to schedule an appointment even if you're eligible to make one. Contact one of the state's vaccine locations to schedule an appointment.

Maryland has developed tiered priority groups based on guidance from the CDC. Phase 1A includes health care workers, nursing home residents and staff and first responders, such as police officers and emergency medical services personnel. In mid-January, the state turned to Phase 1B, which includes assisted living and long-term care residents and staff who weren't covered in Phase 1A. Also in Phase 1B are people at least 75 years old, special needs group homes, people with developmental disabilities, teachers and other child care and education workers.

The next priority group, Phase 1C, includes Marylanders over the age of 65, along with agriculture, grocery store, manufacturing and public transit workers. People in Phase 1C may be able to get a vaccine by early March, though the state has cautioned that its timeline could change based on vaccine availability. Maryland would then vaccinate people in its Phase 2 distribution group, which includes people over the age of 16 with high-risk medical conditions such as diabetes or chronic kidney disease. Vaccines would likely then be available to the general public, though state officials have not yet said when they expect to begin Phase 2 or general public vaccinations.

AARP is fighting for older Americans to be prioritized in getting COVID-19 vaccines because the science has shown that older people are at higher risk of death.

Where can I get a vaccine?  

Maryland health officials have a searchable database of where to find a vaccine location near you. You'll need to contact the vaccination site to make an appointment. Certain Giant Foods and Walmart locations will begin offering vaccines to eligible residents on Jan. 25.

Gov. Larry Hogan is urging hospitals and county health departments to set up vaccine clinics, particularly for older adults. Live! Casino and Hotel in Anne Arundel County opened as a mass vaccination site in mid-January. Maryland’s local health departments may also set up drive-through vaccination sites and partner with pharmacy chains such as CVS to immunize more people when doses are more widely available.

How do I know when I’m able to get a vaccine?

AARP recommends that you talk to your doctor about the safety, effectiveness, benefits and risks of the COVID-19 vaccine. Older adults, especially those with underlying medical conditions like heart disease and diabetes, are at increased risk for hospitalization and death from COVID-19. 

Follow updates about the vaccine’s availability for various groups on Maryland’s COVID-19 vaccine page. You can also call the department toll-free at 877-319-1525.

I’ve heard that some vaccines require a second shot.

The initial COVID-19 vaccines from Pfizer and Moderna require two doses. If you get one of these vaccines, you’ll need a follow-up dose a few weeks later to be effectively immunized. “What you have is you get some degree, not optimal, but some degree of immunity a couple of weeks after the first dose,” Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said in December. “That’s not optimal. After the second dose, you get optimal immunity anywhere from seven to 10 days after the second dose.”

You may receive a vaccination card or printout that tells you where, when and which type of vaccine you received, according to the CDC. According to Maryland’s interim distribution plan, residents will be reminded to come back for a second shot after receiving the first dose. People can register with an online tool called Maryland MyIR to obtain their vaccination records and to register for reminder calls and messages. Reminders may come via text, email or phone.

The CDC has launched a web tool called v-safe that lets you sign up for text message reminders for your second vaccine appointment and report possible side effects.

How will nursing home and other long-term care residents get the vaccine? 

The federal government has contracted with CVS and Walgreens to administer the COVID-19 vaccines at no cost to long-term care residents and staff. The two national drugstore chains say that more than 48,000 of the 50,000 skilled nursing and assisted living communities in the U.S. are participating in the program. Nursing home residents and staff are grouped in Maryland's Phase 1A, with other long-term care facilities just below them in Phase 1B.

Do I have to pay for the vaccination? 

AARP fought to make sure the federal government is covering the cost of the vaccine itself. But the CDC says vaccine providers may still charge a fee for giving someone a shot. The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services has said the vaccine will be administered free of charge to Medicare beneficiaries, with no copays. Maryland’s Medicaid recipients should not incur any costs associated with the vaccine. And some health insurance companies have announced there won’t be out-of-pocket costs for policyholders.

There are already reports of scammers purporting to offer COVID vaccines and treatments and trying to charge for them. AARP’s Fraud Watch Network is tracking the latest scams.

How long does immunity last after I get vaccinated? 

It’s not yet known how long immunity from a coronavirus vaccine lasts and whether it needs to be administered on a regular basis like the flu shot.

Should I still wear a mask after getting vaccinated? 

Yes. Experts still need to learn more about the protection the vaccines provide under “real-life conditions,” the CDC says. It could take your body a few weeks to build up immunity after the second dose of a vaccine. And while the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines are effective at preventing symptoms of COVID-19, it’s not yet clear whether someone who’s been vaccinated can still catch the virus and transmit it to others.

The vaccine is just one tool that can help slow the spread of the coronavirus. The CDC says it could take months for the population to build up immunity, and it continues to recommend preventive measures such as face masks and social distancing. 

“We are able to see the sun rising on the horizon, even if that horizon may still seem a little distant right now,” said Hogan. “Every single day — as we vaccinate more and more people and we continue to fight this virus with everything we’ve got — will bring us that much closer to victory over this deadly virus.”

AARP has also called for ongoing monitoring of vaccines, once they are authorized for public use, to identify any risks that weren’t evident in the expedited development and review process.

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This guide was initially published on Dec. 29 and updated on Jan. 19 with more information about who can get a vaccine.

Also of Interest:
·    What is emergency use authorization for COVID-19 vaccines and treatments? 
·    How vaccination will work in nursing homes
·    Read our full coronavirus coverage

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