In response to Maryland’s slow rollout of COVID-19 vaccines at the local level, Maryland National Guard units and the Maryland Responds Medical Reserve Corp is now available to assist local health departments starting today. 

Jurisdictions must request the assistance.

“I want to assure the people of Maryland that we are going to leverage every single resource at our disposal to get more shots into more arms as quickly as we possibly can in a safe and orderly way,” said Gov. Larry Hogan at his Jan. 5 press conference.

To date, the Maryland Department of Health has distributed 98.7 percent of the COVID-19 doses it received from the federal government for Phase 1A of the state’s vaccination plan, yet nearly 72 percent of the doses remain in freezers at hospitals, health departments and federally contracted pharmacies.

Approximately 77,000 vaccines have been dispensed from the 270,150 delivered to these Maryland providers for Phase 1A. 

Phase 1A is targeted for first responders, healthcare workers and nursing home residents.

Maryland has a 26.5 percent vaccination rate, which is a few points below the national average of nearly 30 percent, according to Bloomberg’s vaccine tracker.

Maryland hospitals have received 163,225 doses with only 56,000 administered so far.

Hogan said one Maryland hospital dispensed 67 percent of its allocation while another dispensed only 16 percent.

A little over 35,000 doses were divided among the state’s 24 health departments and so far just 11,400 residents have been vaccinated.

Drug chain giants CVS and Walgreens have a federal contract to administer vaccines in the state’s 227 nursing homes and so far they show the lowest vaccination rate. Only 8,500 doses have been administered from their combined 61,400-dose inventory.

Hogan also changed reporting requirements, claiming Maryland’s rollout of the first allotment of vaccinations has been under reported. Providers are now required to report vaccinations within 24 hours of being dispensed. The two drug chains were previously required to report within 72 hours under their federal contracts.

Kent County, the smallest jurisdiction in the state, currently has a vaccination rate of 32 percent and has administered 350 of its 1,100-dose allotment for Phase 1A, said Kent County Health Officer William Webb in an interview Wednesday.

Webb said the county has the ability to deliver a vaccine every 10 minutes using up to eight vaccination stations at the health department on Dixon Drive. 

He said Kent County is not currently requesting assistance from the state.

“We are not making any requests at this time,” Webb said.

Webb said local volunteers were needed for nonclinical roles like parking attendants and facilitators to move foot traffic through the facility on Dixon Drive.

He said volunteers could sign up to volunteer through the Maryland Responds Medical Reserve Corp website.