Vaccine access expands across Frederick County

Greg Swatek, The Frederick News-Post, Md.
·3 min read

Apr. 9—Frederick County crossed another milestone this week with the COVID-19 vaccine, as more than half of the county residents who have been vaccinated received their shots from a provider outside the county health department or Frederick Health Hospital.

The news was announced Thursday during County Executive Jan Gardner's weekly public information briefing on the coronavirus and vaccination effort and reflects the growing access residents have to the COVID-19 vaccine.

There are now 22 vaccine providers within 15 miles of the 21702 zip code, according to Dr. Barbara Brookmyer, the county health officer. That doesn't account for any primary care physicians who may be providing it. For December and most of January, it used to be the only vaccine sources in the county were the health department and hospital.

"If we would have waited for our 2,500 or 2,700 [weekly allotment of doses] to vaccinate people, it would have taken a long time to get to where we are now," Brookmyer said in reference to the health department. "So, we welcome [more providers]."

So far, more than 138,000 doses of vaccine have been administered to Frederick County residents, including more than 81,000 first doses. More than 31 percent of the county's population has received at least one dose of vaccine, while roughly 22 percent has been fully vaccinated.

Starting on Monday, the county health department's vaccination clinic at Frederick Community College will become a state-sponsored mass vaccination site.

The only real difference from what already exists is the state will be supplying the site with more vaccine and, perhaps, some additional logistical support.

"It's a work in progress. That's the best way to describe it," Gardner said, repeating her line from earlier in the week after Gov. Larry Hogan expanded eligibility to all Maryland residents 16 and over at mass vaccination sites this week and for all providers starting on Monday.

The FCC site will continue to operate by appointment only, unlike the mass vaccination site at the Premium Outlets in Hagerstown, which began accepting walk-in traffic Tuesday.

Gardner said the county is still finalizing plans for another "high throughput" vaccination site the health department will be able to utilize through the end of the pandemic. It will join the health department's existing sites at Scott Key Center and FCC. The clinic it operated at Butterfly Ridge Elementary School has closed.

On Thursday, the county health department reported 68 new COVID-19 infections, bringing the overall total of confirmed cases in the county to 18,575. Another COVID-related death was reported in the past 24 hours, raising that total to 294 in the county.

The seven-day rolling positivity rate in the county stood at 5.65 percent, which was slightly higher than the statewide rate, and 39 patients were dealing with the infection at Frederick Health Hospital, including eight in intensive care.

Gardner strongly encouraged everyone to continue to follow the basic mitigation measures of mask-wearing, hand-washing and social distancing, and she urged residents to get vaccinated as soon as they can.

"Clearly, we are not out of the woods yet," she said.

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