What to know about the county mass vaccination site, vaccination phases

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A resident receives a COVID-19 vaccine at a county-run clinic in the White Oak Recreation Center in early January. Clinics are by appointment only and do not allow walk-in visits.

Photo of Montgomery County

More and more residents of Montgomery County are now eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine, and the federal and state governments have promised that a significant increase in vaccine doses will make their way to clinical sites.

Montgomery County plans to open a vaccination site on the Germantown campus of Montgomery College on Wednesday, days before the state plans to boost vaccines at the site on April 5, turning it into a mass vaccination site as part of a state, county, Holy Cross Health and college partnership.

But county and state officials have both warned that not all eligible individuals will be able to receive a dose of the vaccine immediately. It will still take time to direct people to meetings by priority groups.

Once someone has pre-registered, an invitation to register for an appointment will be sent.

Here’s what you need to know about the Montgomery County mass vaccination site and vaccination rounds.

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Where and when will the county open a mass vaccination site?

The county will first open a vaccination site on the Germantown campus of Montgomery College on Wednesday. The site will administer approximately 1,500 doses per day.

The site is slated to become a mass vaccination site on April 5 once the state’s vaccine supply increases.

Dr Earl Stoddard, executive director of the county’s Office of Emergency Management and Homeland Security, told a press briefing on Wednesday that it had not yet been determined how the appointments for the vaccines would be split between separate state and county pre-registration systems.

By April 15, the site is expected to be able to deliver 3,000 doses per day or approximately 21,000 doses per week.

If residents are interested in an appointment at the site, they must pre-register with the state or county system.

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Who is vaccinated?

Starting Monday, the county is required to vaccinate residents and workers based on state immunization phases and priority groups.

The change was prompted by an order sent to state county health officials by Dennis Schrader, the acting secretary of state for health.

The order states that in the event of non-compliance, the penalty is punishable by imprisonment for a maximum of one year and / or a fine of up to $ 5,000.

The courts were previously allowed to decide for themselves on the hierarchy of groups.

Under these guidelines, residents and workers in phases 1A, 1B, 1C and 2A can be vaccinated.

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What are the vaccination phases and priority groups and when will they be opened?

Currently open for appointments:
● Phase 1A: health care providers, residents and nursing home staff, first responders, correctional health care staff and officers, and frontline court staff
● Phase 1B: residents aged 75 and over, residents and employees of assisted living and group homes, people with intellectual and developmental disabilities, high-risk incarcerated adults, government officials, K-12 teachers and child care providers
● Phase 1C: residents aged 65 and over; public health and safety workers; essential workers in grocery stores, laboratory services, manufacturing, the U.S. Postal Service, mass transit, and food and agricultural production
● Phase 2A: residents aged 60 and over

Not yet open for appointments:
● Phase 2B (open Tuesdays): residents with underlying health conditions that increase the risk of serious illness from COVID-19
● Phase 2C (open April 13): residents aged 55 and over and critical workers in critical industries including construction, food services, utilities, transportation, financial services, IT, and other infrastructure
● Phase 3 (open April 27): residents aged 16 and over

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Why has the state ordered counties to align with its vaccine phases?

County officials said they had not been notified in advance that the order would come from the state to align with the state’s vaccination phases.

Some county officials believed alignment to state phases would negatively affect equitable vaccine distribution, while others believed it would cause less confusion for residents who had to follow different eligibility in phases.

Mike Ricci, a spokesperson for Gov. Larry Hogan, wrote in an email Tuesday that the state order “formalizes the state’s distribution plan to comply with federal directive to expand eligibility and make all adults eligible by May 1 ”.

Hogan announced that all residents of Maryland aged 16 and over will be eligible for vaccination no later than April 27.

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Where are the other mass vaccination sites in the state? Where will the new sites be and when will they open?

Maryland has already opened six mass vaccination sites, but Hogan has announced six more that will open in the coming weeks.

Sites already open:
● Six Flags America in Prince George County
● Baltimore Convention Center
● M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore
● Regency Furniture Stadium in Charles County
● Wicomico Youth & Civic Center in Salisbury
● Hagerstown Premium Outlets

Sites scheduled to open:
● Montgomery College Campus in Germantown (opens as county site Wednesday, mass vaccination site April 5)
● Timonium Fairgrounds in Baltimore County by April 5
● Anne Arundel County before April 12
● Frederick County before April 12
● Howard County by end of April
● Harford County by end of April

The locations of most of the new sites have yet to be announced.

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I have already been vaccinated. Can I cancel my pre-registration with the county health department?

Yes you can.

If you’ve already been vaccinated elsewhere, you can unsubscribe from a county-run clinic here. Completing the form will remove you from the list.

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Is the county council considering lifting restrictions?

On Friday, the county council, serving as a board of health, will consider allowing spectators to attend sporting events, starting April 2.

A public hearing and a vote are scheduled for Friday at 1:30 pm The deadline to register to speak at the hearing is 11:00 am

County director Marc Elrich recommended changes to allow two spectators per athlete participating up to a maximum of 50 spectators.

Spectators would be allowed to participate in the events if:
● The venue has a barrier to demarcate the area for spectators from the area for participating athletes and coaches
● The spectator area is large enough to allow social distancing between all spectators from different households
● All spectators wear face covers and practice a social distancing of at least six feet

More than 50 spectators could be allowed if sports organizations and schools submit a COVID protocol plan to Dr Travis Gayles, the county health official, or his delegate, and the safety was deemed reasonable.

If approved, the changes will take effect at 5 p.m. on April 2.

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Can you choose which vaccine is given to you?

Residents and workers cannot choose which vaccine is given to them, but health officials have assured that they are all viable and effective. Approved vaccines come from Moderna, Pfizer and Johnson & Johnson.

County officials said there would likely be a specific type of vaccine in each clinic run by the county. When residents register for an appointment, they will know what type of vaccine they will receive at the clinic.

If they don’t want the particular vaccine associated with the appointment, there will be a potential wait for an appointment for a different vaccine.

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How many residents have been vaccinated?

On Thursday, 292,340 residents of the county, or 27.8% of the county’s population, received a first dose of a two-dose vaccine from Pfizer or Moderna. Two-dose vaccines are given three to four weeks apart.

There are 150,188 residents, or 14.3% of the population, who are fully vaccinated with a second dose or with the Johnson & Johnson single dose vaccine.

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If COVID-19 vaccinations increase, is it still necessary to take COVID-19 tests?

You should always take a COVID-19 test if you’ve been exposed to someone who has had symptoms or tested positive – or if you’ve been with a large group of people or if you’ve traveled.

County officials said COVID-19 testing has seen a drop over the past month. But the tests are helping the county track where and how cases are spreading.

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How do you find more information?

For more information, see these resources:
● Montgomery County Vaccine website: https://www.montgomerycountymd.gov/covid19/vaccine/
● Maryland vaccine website: https://coronavirus.maryland.gov/pages/vaccine
● Centers for Disease Control and Prevention vaccine page: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/vaccines/index.html

Residents and workers in eligible phases can pre-register here.

A pre-registration helpline for county-run clinics is available at 240-777-2982. General vaccine questions can be directed to the county at 240-777-1755.

Staff members are available to callers in English and Spanish. The call center is open everyday from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.

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Have a question you haven’t answered here?

Send your question to [email protected] and include “COVID Q&A” in the subject line. We will try to answer them.

Our previous vaccine questions and answers are available here:
● Q&A of March 18
● Q&A of March 11
● Questions and answers of March 5
● Questions and answers of February 24
● February 17
● Questions and answers of January 19

Briana Adhikusuma can be contacted at [email protected]



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