Maryland is planning to launch at least six large mass vaccination centers to distribute COVID-19 vaccine doses, including at the Six Flags amusement park in Prince George’s County, Gov. Larry Hogan announced Tuesday.
Hundreds of National Guard troops who were sent to D.C. to protect the U.S. Capitol during the presidential inauguration “will be immediately reassigned to help plan, build and launch these mass vaccination sites,” Hogan said during a news conference Tuesday afternoon.
The Six Flags vaccination site will open by Feb. 5, Hogan pledged.
The move to stand up mass vaccination sites comes amid a serious shortage of COVID-19 vaccine doses in Maryland and across the country crossed with sky-high demand, which has led to frustration and confusion, long waiting lists and canceled appointments.
In addition to Six Flags, another mass vaccination site will open at the Baltimore City Convention Center by Feb. 5. Eventually, there will also be vaccination sites at M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore. There will also be sites on Maryland’s Eastern Shore, in Western Maryland and Southern Maryland, although the locations have not yet been finalized, Hogan said.
Hogan acknowledged the plans for mass vaccination sites are dependent on the federal government increasing the supply of vaccine doses provided to the state.
As it stands now, Maryland is only receiving about 70,000 vaccine doses a week. The state estimates there are currently 2 million Marylanders eligible for vaccines under the first few phases of its vaccine rollout, which includes health care workers, and people age 65 and older.
“So it goes without saying it is simply an impossibility for all of them to immediately receive,” receive the vaccine.
Hogan said the extremely limited supply remains the largest obstacle in the vaccination effort.
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In addition, starting Feb. 1, the state is expanding eligibility rules, allowing people who are severely immunocompromised — such as cancer patients in active treatment — to sign up for vaccine appointments through the hospitals where they are receiving treatment.
Still, even with expanded eligibility, vaccine doses remain in tight supply, and Hogan counseled patience.
“I’ve always been the guy who tells it like it is and the truth is that this is not going to magically get better overnight,” the governor said. “This is going to be much, much harder. So I ask all Marylanders, as difficult as it is, to please be patient.”
During the news conference, Hogan also discussed the state’s efforts to “provide more points of access to the vaccine” through retail pharmacies, such as Giant and Walmart.
This content was republished with permission from CNN.