County opens Germantown vaccination site; pre-registration is growing


Silver Spring resident Tasha Harris receives her first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine at the vaccination site at Montgomery College’s Germantown campus on Wednesday.

Photos by Briana Adhikusuma

As residents flocked to a new COVID-19 vaccination site at Montgomery College in Germantown on Wednesday, the county opened pre-registration to all residents aged 16 and over.

Pre-registration allows residents and workers to place their information into the county system. It does not guarantee a dose of vaccine right away since the county still only vaccinates those eligible for phases 1, 2A and 2B. All residents aged 16 and over will be eligible for phase 3.

Appointments are sent to residents as doses become available and eligibility opens. Residents and workers are encouraged to pre-register with the state and county.

The county-run vaccination site of Montgomery College opened about a week before the site became a state mass vaccination site on or around April 8.

Dr Earl Stoddard, executive director of the county’s Office of Emergency Management and Homeland Security, told a press briefing on Wednesday that county and state officials “are still going back and forth on this calendar ”.

Stoddard said he was due to meet with state officials on Wednesday to further discuss the matter.

He also said state and local leaders are still negotiating the percentage of appointments at the Montgomery College site that would be reserved for county residents.

Most mass vaccination sites reserve about 7% of appointments for residents of their county, he said, but Montgomery County plans to book about 10%.

Because the county manages more of the site’s operations, Stoddard said, there should be a higher percentage of appointments reserved for local residents – perhaps closer to 25%.

“The county… carries a much larger share of the workload than other sites in the state, so it’s heavily subsidized by… taxpayers directly,” Stoddard said. “So we think from an equity standpoint, our residents carry a greater burden, and they are, frankly, entitled to a larger chunk of vaccine doses than maybe what has been established for others.” Site (s.”

Bethesda resident Vanessa Fontana Keszler receives her first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine at the vaccination site at the Germantown campus of Montgomery College on Wednesday.

On the first day registration opened for the county site, around 3,000 people pre-registered and chose it as their first choice to receive a photo. According to Stoddard, 2,000 others listed him as their second choice.

County health official Dr Travis Gayles added that county residents can still be selected for appointments that are open statewide.

“By having a share reserved for Montgomery County, that does not mean that the percentage open to the general public excludes Montgomery County,” he said. “It is also open to the state.”

County officials lobbied the state for weeks to choose a site in Montgomery County for mass vaccination. The state focused on the sites it saw as priorities, opening in Baltimore City and Prince George County, where many Montgomery County residents have visited.

Today, the state’s list of mass vaccination sites has grown to 12, including Montgomery County. Six of those sites, including the county one, have yet to be opened.

At the Montgomery College vaccination site on Wednesday, a long queue stretched out from the side of the building, through the front door and some hallways, then to a door where a staff member was leading people to different vaccination rooms.

County and Holy Cross Health staff members on Wednesday administered more than 500 first doses of Pfizer vaccine and second doses of Moderna vaccine. This division will not always be the case on a day-to-day basis, as officials also hope to offer Johnson & Johnson’s single-dose vaccine on the site in the future.

Although the site started with a smaller number of doses, Sean O’Donnell, a public health emergency manager for the county health department, said on Wednesday that the site could administer up to 1,500 doses per day. . The site will expand to more days and more doses in the future, he said.

The site will scale up with more doses when the state provides a larger dose shipment scheduled for next week. Officials said they had not been told how many doses they would receive.

Stoddard said the state and county aim to deliver 3,000 doses per day by April 15.

Residents of Montgomery County can also get vaccinated through some hospitals, medical providers, pharmacies, and mass vaccination sites in other counties.

The new vaccination site in Germantown is open Monday through Friday 9 am to 3:45 pm Vaccine doses are only administered to residents and eligible workers by appointment. This is not a walk-in clinic.

Upon entering campus, residents and workers getting vaccinated were guided through campus by police officers and traffic cones to a parking lot near the college’s biological sciences building.

Once inside, people walk to a recording area and then to an immunization room to receive their dose. After receiving a dose of the vaccine, residents are seated in a larger room for 15-minute monitoring for an allergic reaction.

A Montgomery County vaccinator on Wednesday prepares syringes of COVID-19 vaccine at the county clinic on the Germantown campus of Montgomery College.

County manager Marc Elrich visited the site on Wednesday morning and said he was happy to see operations operational.

Although vaccinations are now expected to increase significantly, Elrich said he was still concerned about the potential spread of the coronavirus as businesses continue to open under Gov. Larry Hogan.

“We are in a race. This virus is growing. Until you get a large part of the population vaccinated, the vaccines don’t control the spread, ”he said.

Manuel Gallardo, a psychologist from Bethesda, said he was the only member of his family who had not yet been vaccinated. He received his first dose on Wednesday at the Montgomery College campus.

Once he got the invitation to sign up for a date on Tuesday, he immediately signed up.

“I had the very first time available. … I am very grateful to have [partially] sure, ”he said.

Gallardo said that once fully vaccinated, he planned to visit his parents in San Francisco.

Ripple Weistling, a Bethesda resident and American University faculty member, said she also received a first dose of the vaccine.

She was eligible to receive it due to her asthma, but was surprised that her husband was not picked for a date first as he suffers from asthma and diabetes.

Weistling said she pre-registered for a vaccine in early January and was patient since she didn’t want to skip the line. The opening of the mass vaccination operation will hopefully continue to speed up distribution, she said.

“I think they’re catching up now,” she said. “I think things are moving in the right direction now.”

Bethesda’s Vanessa Fontana Keszler was at the site for her first dose of the vaccine on Wednesday. She was eligible for vaccination due to her employment at George Washington University.

Fontana Keszler said she and her husband were both eager to receive the vaccine, but received a date link before he did.

“My husband is very jealous that I get my vaccine here,” she said.

Briana Adhikusuma can be contacted at [email protected]

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