A popular St. Mary’s gun range won’t be firing rounds next Tuesday, but instead giving COVID-19 shots.
A COVID-19 clinic at Flat Broke Shooters, located at the southern end of Lexington Park, is one of many ways local health officials are trying to get the COVID-19 vaccine into as many arms as possible, as mass vaccination centers wind down their operations and vaccinators begin to hit a “hesitancy wall” of people who may not otherwise sign up for a vaccine.
At a St. Mary’s commissioners meeting, minutes after the gun range vaccine clinic was announced by press release, St. Mary’s Health Officer Dr. Meena Brewster said the county would be winding down its mass vaccination center at the Hollywood Volunteer Fire Department in favor of smaller, more localized clinics to entice visitors, paralleling the state’s pull away from mass vaccination sites, at least until the COVID-19 vaccine is approved for younger age groups.
Health officials throughout the Southern Maryland region are doing the same.
Currently, there is one type of vaccine approved for people 12 years old and over, and two others available for people 18 and over.
The Flat Broke Shooters vaccine clinic will be held Tuesday, June 15, from noon to 6 p.m., and on top of walk-up Pfizer vaccines, will include free gun locks, presentations on gun safety from the St. Mary’s sheriff’s office and the gun range, vaccine question and answer sessions with Brewster, giveaways from the shooting range and a free range safety card.
The gun range concept came about when Sheriff Tim Cameron (R) connected Brewster with the Thomas family, who owns the gun range, Brewster said.
“They’re very community-minded people, and I think they recognize the need,” she said.
“This could be very enticing for a lot of people,” St. Mary’s Commissioner Todd Morgan (R) told Brewster.
St. Mary’s will also hold vaccine clinics this weekend at the California Farmer’s Market, and at the women’s auxiliary of the Hollywood Volunteer Fire Department’s craft show, at the firehouse, this Saturday.
The following weekend, the health department will be offering vaccines at the Unified Committee for Afro-American Contributions’ annual Juneteenth festival from 2 to 6 p.m. on June 19 at John G. Lancaster Park in Lexington Park. The St. Mary’s County Health Department is also offering to bring vaccines to any group of 10 or more that signs up at www.smchd.org.
In Charles, state officials brought the vaccine to the Southern Maryland Food Truck festival last weekend. The county health department is also running a clinic at the Bryan’s Road Shopping Center off Marshall Hall Road until Sunday, with walk-ups accepted from noon to 8 p.m. on weekdays and from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday. The Charles health department also holds several clinics at churches and schools. A full list of their clinics can be found at www.charlescountyhealth.org.
In Calvert, the health department’s mobile vaccination van will be traveling to Scorpion Brewing in Owings this Saturday from 3 to 6 p.m., and registration links can be found at www.calvertcountycovid19.com/vaccination.
The smaller vaccination clinics have not always been successful, as St. Mary’s Commissioner President Randy Guy (R) noted at Tuesday’s meeting that a pop-up clinic in Mechanicsville only drew “maybe eight people.”
Brewster said vaccinated people should “encourage people” in their social circles to get vaccinated.
“There’s a lot of myths and misinformation still out there,” she said. But “millions and millions” of people have been vaccinated with no issues.
As more localized clinics pop up, and the vaccine becomes steadily available at primary care offices and pharmacies, mass vaccination centers are winding down.
The vaccination clinic at Regency Furniture Stadium in Waldorf will close on June 24. The Calvert County Health Department has not announced plans to close its mass vaccination center as of yet, but the Hollywood firehouse operation in St. Mary’s will be “taking a pause” temporarily in coming weeks, Brewster said, but will likely administer vaccines again when the vaccines are permitted for younger age groups.