CHAN: Maryland could get its first doses of the Coronavirus vaccine next week

Image by fernando zhiminaicela from Pixabay. Image by fernando zhiminaicela from Pixabay.

COLUMBIA, Md. (Dec. 8, 2020)—Deputy Health Secretary Dr. Jinlene Chan said Maryland might receive its first doses of the coronavirus vaccine as early as next week.

"If approved, which we anticipate it will be, we believe that the initial doses of the Pfizer vaccine will become available for Maryland as early as the week of December 14, or next week," Chan said at a news conference at the State House in Annapolis on Tuesday in which she was accompanied by Gov. Larry Hogan and Assistant Health Secretary Bryan Mroz.

Chan said Moderna's vaccine, if approved for emergency use at the FDA's December 17 meeting could make its way to Maryland by the week of Dec. 21.

The FDA is scheduled to consider emergency approval of Pfizer's vaccine on Thursday. Today the FDA published a report that confirmed the safety and efficacy of the biotech company's vaccine.

Chan noted that both the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines have proven to be 94%-95% effective in clinical trials and that Maryland's first installment of the vaccine will include 155,000 doses.

Chan outlined which Marylanders will eligible for the first doses of the vaccine. She said the state is closely following the federal government's recommended guidelines for distribution.

"Our approach in Maryland will be to include in that Phase IA, all health care workers, long-term care facility staff and residents, as well as first responders. That will include nursing homes as well as assisted living [facilities]."

Chan said that as more vaccines arrive they will be made available to Marylanders who are considered at high-risk for contracting COVID, such as those with chronic heart and kidney disease. Chan said the end goal is for all Marylanders to receive the vaccine.

Mroz noted that the vaccines must be kept frozen when they are shipped and that the state has purchased several specialized freezers for that purpose.

"The state has secured several of these freezers to ensure that we can store them. In addition to that, we have contracted with institutions and organizations that have ultra-low-cold storage capabilities. And we have established contracts with multiple vendors with dry-ice suppliers. We feel confident that we can handle the storing of the vaccines either in their shipping containers or in ultra-low cold storage."

Hogan said that in order to help ensure public confidence in the vaccine both he and Lt. Gov. Boyd Rutherford will take it in a public forum as soon as it is available to them.

Hogan urged Marylanders to remain vigilant in the fight against the virus.

"The cavalry is coming. A vaccine is on the way. But it is absolutely critical that we continue to fight this virus with everything we've got. And we all need to keep doing the things that we know that will help keep us safe."

There are 219,961 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Maryland as of Tuesday morning, according to the Department of Health, and 4,755 people in Maryland have died from the virus. The state's positivity rate is at 7.61%, which is well above CDC recommended guidelines for containment. Maryland has conducted more than 4.7 million COVID-19 tests.

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