In MD, we find out from the CDC how much vaccine we will get one time a week. After it goes through approvals, local health departments find out how much they will get that week. Then they can scramble to get appointments scheduled for the targeted group(s) the state has approved. When they can, they do this as much as possible in advance. When they get more vaccine, they can move on to the next group or do more people and more clinics. Check your local health department’s website for details but please don’t call them about it; they are busy managing this work.
Maryland local health departments view giving of the vaccine similar to triaging at the scene of the accident, in this case, treating and preventing COVID. It’s critical we protect the immediate ‘scene’ (hospitals, nursing homes, first responders, those giving the vaccine for ex) and then to move out from there. This allows a level of protection that helps reduce spread and helps keep those responding safe so they can keep responding as there are so few people to replace them right now.
Because each county in MD has a different population in size and make up (for instance, one county may have a large # of seniors, another county may have only 60k people, another may have a lot of hospitals or large workplaces) and also different critical needs (outbreaks etc), each county is going to be vaccinating at a different rate. Some will have gone through all those at the ‘scene’ because there are so few in that group and may be able to move on to the next. That does not mean one county is better at vaccinating than another or that they choose one population over another. We just do not have the amount of vaccine we need to do even the first priority groups right now in every jurisdiction and our population sizes are not the same.
Giving these vaccines takes time and careful planning. Once a vial is taken out of the ultra-cold storage or is removed from the fridge it cannot be put back; it must be used within a certain time or it cannot be used. Once it is prepared in the needle, it cannot be put back. Local health departments have been giving mass vaccinations for flu, etc for decades; they know how to manage vaccine, dosing, preparation, storage and supply so that none is wasted and the most people possible get vaccinated at any one time and as fast as safely possible given the supply given to them.
This vaccine is too valuable and too important to saving lives and reducing virus spread (and us returning to ‘normal’). We are not going to sit on doses and we are not going to waste them.
Please be patient. We are doing this without additional resources ($, in some cases even without extra staff) and little guidance from the federal government which needs to do its part - $, supply, vaccination supplies, production and delivery. We appreciate the volunteers and others helping us do this and especially the staff who have been working w no extra pay, without leave, and with little recognition as essential workers who have been on the job nonstop since Feb/March 2020.