More out-of-state residents have received a COVID-19 vaccine at the state’s mass vaccination site at Regency Furniture Stadium than residents of the county it is located in, according to a state health department report.
In the first weeks of the site operating, only 8.2% of vaccines at the site went to Charles residents, more than Calvert and St. Mary’s residents received there, but less than the share of Montgomery, Prince George’s, Anne Arundel and out-of-state residents who received the shot at the mass vaccination clinic.
The mass vaccination site, located in Waldorf, has 2,100 priority appointments per week set aside for residents of Charles, Calvert and St. Mary’s counties, Charles Gischlar, a spokesperson for the Maryland Department of Health, said.
“We encourage residents of Charles County, as well as every resident in every county, to get vaccinated if eligible,” he said, also adding the health department prefers Marylanders are prioritized for getting vaccinated here, but will not turn away out-of-state residents who need one.
All of the COVID-19 vaccinations are offered for free.
An agreement between Maryland, D.C. and Virginia provides that the states will vaccinate each other’s residents if they commute to work in another state and fall under an occupational phase.
Those eligible at the state level to receive a vaccine can make an appointment at the mass vaccination site at massvax.maryland.gov. The state is currently in Phase 2B.
As of Wednesday, 27.9% of Calvert residents had received their first dose of the vaccine, as well as 23.3% of Charles residents and 25.6% of St. Mary’s residents. Less than a percentage point of each population received a single-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine.
St. Mary’s County receives the most vaccines from the state per resident, not including the mass vaccination site. While both Charles and Calvert receive about the same amount per number of residents, St. Mary’s, which has jumped ahead of the state’s recommended phase and is about the same distance from Regency as Calvert County, receives a higher portion.
“We don’t begrudge our sister county,” Calvert County Health Officer Dr. Laurence Polsky said by email on Tuesday. “If St. Mary’s is able to get more vaccine doses, good for their health department staff who have been doing a terrific job, and good for county residents who benefit by having access closer to home.”
Polsky said Calvert’s “biggest frustration” was 500 doses the state is “supposedly” reserving for Calvert residents each week at Regency. He said the health department has requested to have those doses sent directly to the Calvert health department, rather than Regency, so residents do not have to travel as far for vaccines they could be receiving on home turf.
“It is our hope that the state will reverse its current allocation policy and enable us to more equitably and efficiently vaccinate our residents,” Polsky said.
St. Mary’s, while receiving a better share of the vaccines, is still not receiving enough, St. Mary’s Health Officer Dr. Meena Brewster told St. Mary’s commissioners on Tuesday.
“We are still advocating for more vaccine supply coming to St. Mary’s County, specifically to our health department, because we are the main vaccinators in our county,” she said.
But as the state receives an increased supply from the federal government in coming weeks, she said she hopes the county will as well.
Many local pharmacies are also receiving and giving COVID-19 vaccinations. Eligible residents can sign up for the free shots at certain pharmacies directly through the businesses’ websites.