EASTON — The Talbot County Health Department expects to get 400 more doses of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine this week and said vaccination clinics for general population residents 75 years and older could begin in two weeks if vaccine supply permits.
Acting County Health Officer Dr. Maria Maguire said in an interview Tuesday her department is making good progress vaccinating Phase 1A-eligible recipients against the coronavirus with its initial allotments of vaccine.
By Friday this week, she said her department plans to have administered all 600 vaccine doses the county received last week. The allocation allowed Maguire and her team to plan a vaccination clinic to vaccinate up to 200 healthcare providers and frontline workers in one day.
Maguire said her department isn’t notified how much of the vaccine it will receive each week until the preceding Saturday or Sunday night, and isn’t told what day a shipment will arrive, which makes planning mass vaccinations a challenge.
“As soon as we get a shipment in is when we can plan a clinic and know how many recipients we can handle. The last thing I want to do is tell people to come to a vaccine clinic and have them standing outside waiting and then we run out [of vaccine],” she said.”We’re totally dependent on how many doses we receive.
“I’m hoping we’ll be able to get more solid numbers or timing of when we get our allotments, but so far it’s been pretty small compared to our goal of the number of people we want to vaccinate.”
The acting health officer said she anticipates her department will get 400 to 600 vaccine doses from the state per week for the time being. She said she is planning to graduate the county to the Phase 1B vaccination group by Jan. 18.
The Phase 1B group comprises citizens at higher risk of developing severe COVID-19 illness, such as those older than 75, and people whose occupations qualify them for an earlier vaccination, such as teachers.
“Some details still have to be ironed out about those specific occupational categories,” she said. Maguire said it will be much “simpler” to organize vaccinations for general population groups than it has been for those in the Phase 1A category.
”It’s different now and it takes a lot more administrative work on our part because we’re trying to identify a very targeted population,” she said. “When we do more of a general population, even when it’s age based, that’ll be simpler in terms of organizing because we’ll be able to say to the public, ‘Here are the dates and here’s how to sign up.’”
Maguire didn’t say when she anticipates the county will reach the later vaccination phases that will allow the general public to get vaccinated. She said the pace at which vaccinations will move varies from county-to-county depending on supply and the occupational and age demographics of each county.
“We have a lot of recipients in the 1A category in Talbot that we have to get through before we’re able to move on,” she said. “You may see the other counties are able to complete their 1A priority list first and that’s great, but it is going to vary based on a county’s size and its makeup.
“A large portion of our population is over the age of 65, so that means we’ll have a lot of people in that 1B and 1C category. Baltimore County and some of the other larger counties will likely be in the 1A category much longer than us because they have many more healthcare providers.”
Maguire said her department is working on a website that will serve as a destination for the community to get information about the vaccine rollout locally. It will be linked on the county’s current COVID-19 website, https://talbotcovid19.org/.
“When it comes time for the public to be able to schedule, they’ll have a centralized point of information about what exactly to do,” she said. For now, “we’re just trying to get vaccines out and in arms as quickly as possible, making sure it’s done with the highest quality standards.”