Gov. Larry Hogan Makes Major Vaccination Related Announcements

All Marylanders ages 16 and up can get vaccinated and more mass vaccination sites are opening up this week.

Video Transcript

LARRY HOGAN: --Delbridge, who's the executive director.

- And let us go straight to Governor Hogan, live from the state house

LARRY HOGAN: Over the last week, we have reached some major milestones in our COVID-19 vaccination campaign, including our first day, over 75,000 vaccinations. And today, we hit more than 3 million vaccines. We completed the first million vaccinations in 67 days, then reached 2 million 27 days later. And now, in just 19 days, we did the third million.

We administered 429,317 vaccines in just the past week alone. Our average vaccination rate is 61,331 shots per day, which means we're vaccinating at a faster rate than the nation and 36 other states.

Four months ago, vaccines had not yet even been approved by the FDA. But now, we have already vaccinated more than 76% of all Marylanders over the age of 65 and more than 42% of all Marylanders 18 years and older.

As a result of the infrastructure we built across the state and our rapid pace of vaccinations, along with the increased supply of vaccines from the federal government, last week, we were able to open preregistration to phase three, meaning that every Marylander over the age of 16 was able to preregister for an appointment at one of our mass vaccination sites. More than a 1/2 million people have already done so.

Today, we are pleased to announce another acceleration of the vaccine eligibility phases to earlier than anticipated. Any and all Marylanders 16 and older are able to get a vaccine at any of the state's mass vaccination sites beginning tomorrow morning. And by Monday, April 12, all providers in the state will be required to allow vaccines for all Marylanders 16 years of age and older.

Appointments for any remaining individuals in phase one or phase two will continue to be prioritized. And Marylanders 16 or 17 years of age will only be able to utilize clinics that are providing the Pfizer vaccine, as it is the only one that is currently approved by the FDA for ages 16 and older.

We will open three more mass vaccination sites this week, including the FEMA site at the Greenbelt Metro Station in Prince George's County, the Maryland State fairgrounds in Baltimore County, and the Montgomery College campus in Germantown.

Next week, we open them at Frederick Community College and at the Navy Marine Corps Memorial Stadium in Anne Arundel County, at Ripken Stadium in Harford County the following week of the 19th, and at the mall in Columbia in Howard County immediately after that.

Friday, we successfully launched our first no appointment necessary walk up line at the Eastern shore site in Salisbury. Tomorrow, we will begin the no appointment necessary line also at the Hagerstown site, then next week at M&T Bank Stadium.

In addition, we will be adding no appointment necessary lines at each of the other new mass vax sites that we are opening. We want to emphasize that the best way to guarantee a vaccine and to get through the sites faster is still to preregister and secure an appointment. And we encourage everyone who wants a vaccine to visit COVIDvax.Maryland.gov or to call the state's COVID-19 Vaccination Support Center at 1-855-MD-GOVAX.

We're also now providing vaccines at 481 pharmacies all over the state of Maryland. And the federal government is providing additional supplies to these pharmacies, which will also now be able to make more appointments available each week in every county.

Pharmacy providers can all be found at COVIDvax.Maryland.gov. I want to stress that even though we're opening up eligibility for everyone, that does not mean everyone will be able to immediately get an appointment. But with the supply of doses increasing over the next month or so, a vaccine should be available for everyone who wants one.

We urge Marylanders to please get vaccinated just as soon as you are able to. These vaccines are proven to be safe and effective and are provided at no cost. Getting vaccinated will help keep you, your family, and your community healthy and safe.

Our daily positivity rate-- seven-day positivity rate and case rate per 100,000-- are all down slightly today. And our number of new cases dropped significantly. Maryland is in better shape than the country, and we're not in the red zone. However, nearly all of the states to the north of us are. And we all know that the virus does not respect state borders.

We are literally in a race between the vaccines and these new highly transmissible variants which are driving an increase in new infections and hospitalizations, particularly among younger people in states across the country. Getting more people vaccinated as quickly as we possibly can is our absolute best defense against these variants. And it's the best way to win this long war against this deadly virus.

I want to close by thanking all of the vaccinators on the front lines-- the nurses, the Maryland National Guard soldiers, the Maryland Response Volunteer Corps, and all of our clinical partners who are working around the clock each and every day to get more shots into more arms.

It is thanks to them and all of their efforts that Maryland is vaccinating at a faster rate than the nation and most other states. And with their help, we will continue to do so in the days ahead until our job is completed.

At this time, I'm going to turn it over to Dr. Delbridge who's going to talk more about why it's so critically important for all Marylanders to get vaccinated. Dr?

TED DELBRIDGE: Good afternoon, and thank you, Governor Hogan, once again for your continued attention and leadership during this unprecedented ongoing public health emergency. For more than a year now, we have been responding to the crisis. And our tactics have been multifaceted involving every agency of state government, local health departments, hospitals, and their health care systems, health care clinicians-- literally heroes of all sorts-- public safety personnel and others.

However, our job is not done-- far from it. As of today, there are more than 1,100 Marylanders suffering from COVID-19 at our hospitals. And 22% are in an intensive care unit. We must all continue to do our parts by wearing a well-fitting mask that covers our mouth and our nose when around other people by maintaining physical distance from others, by washing our hands frequently. And if we're not feeling well, taking the initiative to stay away from work, school, and other public places.

However, we know that our best strategy to combat COVID-19 is through vaccination. Efforts to vaccinate Marylanders involve hundreds of people who are working every single day around the clock. And we can tell it's working. In the past five weeks, the proportion of new COVID-19 cases affecting people 60 years and older has decreased by 30%. They also represent a lower proportion of hospitalized patients. These are the people who were in the first waves of vaccine rollout.

The flip side, however, is that people younger than 60 years old are comprising a higher proportion of new COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations. This is one factor in the efforts to broaden the eligibility for vaccinations to as many people as possible. Every vaccinated person is a success.

We know that some people still have questions about the COVID-19 vaccines. For example, do they work? Yes. There are 94% to 95% effective in reducing the risk of becoming sick or developing serious illness from COVID-19.

Can I get COVID-19 from the vaccine? No. None of the current vaccine uses the virus or any part of it in a way that could potentially give someone COVID-19 through vaccination. Some ask, I want to make sure it's safe. How do I know?

Well, millions of doses of vaccine have been administered and initially to older folks who are often more frail and vulnerable. The safety record of the vaccines has been excellent. Estimates are less than five people in a million may develop a supplemented reaction that can be easily managed.

Some say I have heard there are side effects. Are they very severe? Some people may get mild symptoms that last a short time. These are not from the vaccine per say. They are actually from one's own immune system revving up to attack the virus when they see it for real. And for some, the posture is maybe I'll just wait out-- wait it out and take my chances.

And there are several reasons why that is not a good plan. COVID-19 is a serious illness as we have learned. More than 8,300 Marylanders have died from COVID-19. More than 418,000 people have been affected. More than 37,000 Marylanders have been admitted to a hospital.

Many people have lasting effects and do not recover completely if ever for months. Even if you're a lucky person and you managed not to get so ill, the people closest to you, the ones you love and your friends, may not be so lucky when you pass the virus along to them.

And every time the virus moves from one person to another, it is its chance to become a better virus, to be stronger, to make people more ill, and to resist or avoid the treatments that currently exist.

As baseball season is starting, I thought I would make a baseball analogy. And those who follow the Orioles, the Nationals, or their other favorite team will understand the best way to stop a run from scoring is to get the batter out before he gets on base. No base runners means no runs can score.

If COVID-19 can't get on base-- can't go from one person to another because they have all been vaccinated, we win and the virus loses. On behalf of all of us throughout Maryland who have been in battle for more than a year, please do these things. Wear a mask, keep your distance, wash your hands, stay at home when you're not feeling well. And please, most importantly, get a vaccine when it's your turn. Thank you.

LARRY HOGAN: With that, we'd be happy to take a few questions.

- Governor, right here. Governor, Dr. Delbridge just said that the spread right now, particularly concerning about the young people. So a question about the reasoning behind the 16 and up registration. How much of this was weighted on progress that you have made on the vaccination groups that have been existing previously. And how much of this is a real concern about devaluing spreading amongst young people. And then those young people, in turn, spreading it to the ones who [INAUDIBLE]?

LARRY HOGAN: Well, it's a great question. So it's a little bit of both. We certainly took this into consideration. We're now able to move more quickly because we've been getting that increased supply, and we built the infrastructure.

We saw this coming, which is why we started the preregistration last week to get ready and geared up, where the response has been phenomenal. And we were able to handle all of that-- all the mass vax sites. But there's no question, as Dr. Delbridge said, we're seeing fewer and fewer of our older residents getting sick or hospitalized or dying because 76% of them have been vaccinated.

But we're seeing the increases that we are seeing. Today, the numbers were pretty good. But, you know, we've been bumping along here with slight increases. It's mostly younger people. And we're starting to see hospitalizations among people in their 20s and 30s and 40s as opposed to just folks in their 70s and 80s and 90s.

So getting more people-- younger people vaccinated faster is certainly a goal. And we want to make sure that people take it seriously. Some younger people sometimes felt that they were bulletproof, or they didn't have to worry about it. But now, we're seeing that they really do need to worry about it. And so we're hopeful that everybody will be signing up and getting vaccinated.

- [INAUDIBLE] Governor, you've opened up the state [INAUDIBLE] vaccinations literally a month ahead of the scheduled [INAUDIBLE] by the president. Looking at that, do you have a goal in mind-- I asked you this before. Do you have a goal in mind for the number, whether they're senate or all number of Marylanders who will be vaccinated by the July 4th event?

GOVERNOR HOGAN: You know I would like to get as many of them as we can. It all depends on the supply. And now the federal government has gotten us an increased supply. They're saying that is going to continue. They don't see any more dramatic increases, I don't think, for a while, but the same kind of supply that we're getting. At this pace now as I mentioned, we just hit 75,000 a day. We'd have to get more supply from the feds to hit the magic 100,000 a day number that our system can handle, but we don't have enough vaccines for it. But we can get there every day, our averages are going up.

Again, we're ahead of most other states. I'm really pleased with the progress. But we went to 76% of all the people over 65. We should be over 80%, by the end of this week. We're at 46% of all adults over 18, and that we should not take us very long to get half that population. So I think we're-- I don't want to make promises we can't deliver based on something that's not in our control. But if they continue to provide vaccines the way they have led us to believe, we should be able to finish everybody who wants one during April and May.

- Speaking supply and expectations, do you believe there's enough supply to accommodate the demand [INAUDIBLE] and avoid the challenges that [INAUDIBLE]?

GOVERNOR HOGAN: Well, in January there weren't enough, and we didn't have an infrastructure built, but we're not, as I said in my remarks, every single person that is over 16 is not going to get one immediately. But we do believe that over those next few weeks of April and May, that we will have enough vaccines for everybody. And that is why we're trying to get an organized process. We don't want to slow down, we want to keep ramping up. So it's not going to be instantly millions of people, tomorrow, are going to be able to get one, but over the next several weeks, they will.

- Governor Hogan, are you concerned with the cost of [INAUDIBLE]?

GOVERNOR HOGAN: No, we're hoping for that, actually. I mentioned on Thursday afternoon that we were going to have an experiment, our first trial of opening up a walk up line in Salisbury. And 500 people, the next day, utilized that walk up line. It went terrific. It was very smooth. We hit our record numbers this weekend, in Salisbury, at full capacity. And we're expecting the same thing to happen in Hagerstown, and at all of our other sites moving forward.

So it's still best because if you register, they have all your information, you know there's a vaccine for you. It's very smooth. People are just raving about the process at all these sites. The walk up, you can't be guaranteed, because if too many people show up, you may wait in line for a while, and they may say sorry today we don't have enough. But a lot of people are going to be able to get handled that way.

- Governor Hogan, a good part of your messaging today was about [INAUDIBLE] to get the vaccine. How concerned are you about supply and demand at a certain point? I mean, when you see there is availability for walk-ups in Salisbury [INAUDIBLE] such a good part of your messaging. Are you already starting to get [INAUDIBLE]?

GOVERNOR HOGAN: Well, there's no question about that. And it's because when 76% of everybody that was eligible, got a vaccine already. That remaining 24%, some of them don't want a vaccine. So that is why we're opening up to bigger and bigger groups. Our goal is to eliminate and wind down and shut down all of these 12 mass vac sites, so that the few remaining people can get it at the CDS, or Walgreens, or Giant, or Walmart, or their doctor's offices. But in the meantime, we want to run as many people through there as we possibly can, thousands of them a day, because time is not our friend in this battle.

And so it's as we said before, we have 3,000 points of distribution, now we're up to 485 pharmacies, we started with a pilot program of 30. When people can get a vaccine pretty much anywhere, eventually they're going to say why do we want to drive-through a mass vac site and wait. But right now we need all those spigots open as much as we can.

But it is that the demand is going to decrease. And I have said this since January, that for January and February it was like, why can't we get enough vaccines, why, can't we get an appointment, and that it was going to switch to, we have vaccines, we have appointments, we need more people. And that is already starting to happen. I think we're going to adjust that now with this opening of the floodgates. But after a few weeks, that's also going to start to slow down. Anybody? Tom?

- A question about prescriptions, Governor. One of your previous [INAUDIBLE]-- so the way the states and the [INAUDIBLE] states, and [INAUDIBLE] in Maryland. It seems we border those states. How large of a roll does what we see on that map play in your future decisions to honor prescriptions here in Maryland?

GOVERNOR HOGAN: Well, we watch it very closely. Our team is talking every single day about what steps we need to take. Dr. Delbridge hit the nail on the head, when we said that the three most important things is wearing the masks, which we still have a mask mandate, although more than half the states don't. We still do the distancing and getting the vaccine.

So we're doing a better job on the vaccine, and we still have the mask mandate. Well, we're still pushing all of those things that kept us safe. It doesn't appear to have anything to do with openings, because New York has got most things closed. And it's, I think, the worst. Florida's got everything open. They're right behind New York. We're in between in that, right now, pretty good spot. We're less than the national average, we're less than the regional average. We're better than all of the states to the North.

But it is not great. It is not going down the way it was. Our positivity rate, daily positivity, yesterday dropped back below five, so that's good. That was only for one day. The seven day average is still over five. Those states on the case rates per 100,000 are in the red, we're not one of them.

Luckily, our case is-- It's hard, you can't really judge one day to another. Sometimes people say, "Oh, it went up today." Well, today we dropped 850 cases. We went from 1,600 down to 850, which is one of our lowest days ever. So you have to look at a trend. We're continuing to watch that, and we're going to make decisions every day based on what whatever the facts we see on the ground, not just in our state, but what's happening in the rest of the country.

[INTERPOSING VOICES]

- [INAUDIBLE]

GOVERNOR HOGAN: Maybe, I don't know if Dr. Delbridge wants to talk about-- No, he doesn't want to talk about that. That is not his real thing, so I can wing this one then. We don't see a one definitive thing, but we're still seeing the things we have talked about for a long time. We have almost none of it has to do with restaurants and bars, although there's the breathless coverage about we shouldn't have opened anything.

By the way, we don't have anything open at 100%. We have distancing requirements that most places can't even get to 50%, and we still have the masking requirement. But most of it is still family gatherings, and working outside the home, mostly in offices, and travel.

And when you've got states that are really high, and people are traveling there a lot. We had a huge amount of people traveling over Easter, but even in the weeks before that, spring breaks all over the place. And those things are much more concerning to us.

[INTERPOSING VOICES]

- Looking at the [INAUDIBLE]

GOVERNOR HOGAN: Not really. We have nothing much more to say about that. It was you complete nonsense. I am still very happy with the tremendous success of the acquiring these test kits, that was probably one of the biggest accomplishments throughout this pandemic. The report was partisan nonsense.

We used every single one of the 500,000 kits. It was a tremendous-- We were the only state in the country to acquire any of them. It was unanimously approved by the Board of Public Works, and I don't have much to say about the report. And I wouldn't change a single thing. I don't really care what those legislators have to say. Thank you.

- Right, you've just been watching Governor Hogan giving an update on vaccinations in Maryland. I guess the key point is, starting tomorrow, anyone 16 and older, anyone in Maryland can go to one of those mass vaccination sites and get vaccinated.

- And of course, with caution, he says. Because you're not going to be able to get in right away. A lot of people are still on a waiting list to get in. But at least he says that the vaccines are there, or will be available for everyone.

And the numbers are sometimes a little confusing. I mean, today we've been reporting-- if we look at our key metrics for today-- right now, we're up in the 24 hour change from confirmed cases, hospitalizations, deaths. Positively rate, down slightly.

- Right, but the key number there in that positivity rate, is the CDC says we need to be below 5%, and we are still above 5%, and that's important. The governor did say he has a goal, which is Memorial Day. He wants, by Memorial Day, this state to be able to reopen, and the only way it can do that is if we keep using masks, socially distance, and everybody gets vaccinated.

- And he's also cautioning us with numbers like this. He says don't pay attention to it every single day. Don't compare it to overall. Overall, the state of Maryland is doing better. We're out of the red zone, and all the states above us are in-- many of the states above us-- are in the red zone.

So yes, good news. Vaccines are becoming readily available, and vaccinations can take place.

- That's right. So here's some of the latest on the vaccination process in Maryland. Starting tomorrow, once again, anyone aged 16 and older is eligible to get a vaccine at one of those mass sites. For ages 16 and 17, they will only be getting the Pfizer vaccine at this point, because it's the one that's been tested.

- And over the next few weeks, more mass vaccination sites will open across the state, including at the Howard County Mall, that will be Columbia Mall, starting tomorrow. You can also walk up and get a shot at the Hagerstown mass vaccination site, as long as they have a supply.

The same will begin next week at the mass vaccination site at M&T Bank Stadium.

- And they're going to open one at the Navy football stadium as well.

- Exactly.

- Yeah, in Annapolis.

- Lots of places. Go to the website to find out more, and it'll tell you everything you need to know.