Dear Prince Georgians:
It has been a trying year as we have battled the COVID-19 pandemic, together. This has certainly been a challenge that none of us imagined, but we will get through this together. There is light at the end of this long road, however, as we work to vaccinate as many residents as possible through our Health Department, medical partners, and the State.
To make sure we keep you informed, and that we are as transparent about the vaccination process as possible, we are launching our new “COVID-19 Vaccine Bulletins.” We will send these bulletins out regularly to provide the latest updates about where we are at in the vaccination process. Our latest numbers are provided further below, but I want to take a moment to recap what has already taken place and provide a brief overview of where we currently stand.
We have faced some challenges with issuing vaccination appointments, sometimes with things that were unfortunately out of our control. Now, I am happy to say that we have come up with a solution to address several issues we have experienced. Many people received a first dose but were unable to make a second dose appointment. Many were given a piece of paper at the time of their first appointment, which had a QR code or a link to visit. However, all of the appointments through those links were taken.
This was because the personal link we provided to individuals to make a second appointment was shared widely. Residents shared this link with their friends, family, and neighbors, who then made appointments and took all the slots available for those who needed them. Going forward, we ask that eligible residents who receive their first dose of the vaccine DO NOT share this link. Those who continue to misuse the appointment link will be met with disappointment. Our Health Department is ensuring that residents who show up for confirmed appointments, but are not supposed to be vaccinated, are being turned away.
Sharing the personal appointment link only slows down the vaccination process for all Prince Georgians. Again, instead of cutting the line, those who misuse the link are turned away. In the process, they prevent our limited staff of doctors and nurses from administering the vaccine to eligible residents who need protection now. If you had a first dose but were unable to schedule a second dose at the time of your appointment, you will be contacted by the Health Department. They are tracking second doses, and they will follow up with you a week before your second dose appointment and provide you a link to schedule it.
Making your appointment for a second dose will not be an issue moving forward. As of this past Monday, we have staff at our vaccination sites who will make sure you have your appointment for a second dose before you leave.
In addition, there have been issues with the website for scheduling appointments. Initially, we have relied on the State vaccination website for our appointments here in Prince George’s County. This has been a learning process for us, and what we have found is that the State registration site is creating some problems. In addition to sending unsecured links, it crashes and has created other issues for our clinicians and residents. We are communicating with the State to make sure they are aware of these issues, and they have already been working to correct some of these issues we have brought to their attention.
Right now, our Office of Information Technology is working with our Health Department to build a more functional, user-friendly site for appointments. We anticipate that will take more than a month to build. In the meantime, we will be switching to the Health Department’s electronic records system to schedule appointments. This will address multiple problems we have experienced with the State registration site.
I know many of our residents pre-registered in January and still have not received appointments. As Dr. Carter and I have said before, due to the limited supply of vaccine it will take some time to work through our pre-registration list. However, since we are switching from the State vaccination registration system to the Health Department electronic records system, we will begin to schedule appointments further in advance for March and April. That system is now ready, and we will begin training staff and utilizing this system next week.
By the end of next week, those on our pre-registration list who have been waiting will begin to receive appointments. We will prioritize phase 1A and 1B first, but those in 1C could begin to receive appointments as well. We anticipate we will be able to schedule everyone in 1A and 1B, and then begin scheduling some individuals in 1C within a couple of weeks. If you do not immediately receive an appointment, do not worry, I promise we will get to you.
As we move into this new system, we want to take the guess work out of the appointments process, so you will receive separate appointments for your first and second dose at the same time. Unlike the State site, you will not be provided a link to select a date and time. Instead, you will be given both appointment dates with times and locations, which resolves the issues we have seen with scheduling second dose appointments and with individuals sharing links with family and friends who are not eligible. We ask that you be flexible to ensure you can make the appointment date and time that you are assigned.
I want to encourage all of our residents to pre-register for the vaccine. Our overall goal is to vaccinate 728,050 eligible residents in Prince George’s County. If you have not already done so, pre-register as soon as you can, because that is how we are issuing appointments. This way, we can help you schedule an appointment when the time comes and provide you with regular updates on our progress delivering this vaccine. You can pre-register at mypgc.us/COVIDVaccine.
Our capacity to deliver the vaccine is greater than the supply we are receiving. The Health Department now has the capacity to vaccinate 1,600 people per day at our various sites. Initially, because vaccine supply was unpredictable, the Health Department made the determination to move slower and hold back some doses. However, I have asked them to move forward with getting all first doses into arms as soon as possible.
The number of doses we receive on a weekly basis fluctuates, and the only thing we are guaranteed to receive from the State, weekly, is 975 first doses. We are pleased to report that, as of yesterday, we are told that number will go up to 4,200 for at least the next 2 weeks, and perhaps the next 4 weeks. We know that as the federal government works to increase vaccine production, the pipeline will increase. Right now, the supply of vaccine is still very limited. As of now, our County Health Department has administered 71 percent of all available vaccine doses that we have available to residents.
This metric (percent of vaccine administered) changes day to day as new vaccine shipments come in. For example, between February 7-9 we utilized over 81% of the vaccine we had available to vaccinate residents. This means that there may come a time where we are required to cancel appointments because there’s not enough vaccine on a given day. We hope that does not happen, but I want you to know that it is a possibility. If limits to our supply of vaccine cause us to cancel appointments, we will reschedule those appointments as soon as our supply is replenished.
It is paramount that as more vaccine becomes available, we have the capacity needed to deliver the vaccine to our residents quickly. That’s why we continue to expand our vaccination capacity here in Prince George’s County. We currently have three facilities operating under the purview of our County Health Department; one in Cheverly, another at the Sports and Learning Complex, and the last at the Southern Regional Technology and Recreation Complex. We will have a soft launch of a fourth facility at the Laurel Beltsville Senior Center next week, on Wednesday. With that site, next week our vaccination capacity will increase to 1,900 doses per day.
We have provided over 12,000 first doses of the COVID-19 vaccine during the month of January. That means we have 12,000 second doses due during the month of February. Our second dose appointments from January are beginning this week and will continue to ramp up through the end of the month. We are continuing to provide first dose appointments, including approximately 2,000 this week alone. Since these vaccines require 2 doses to provide protection, our priority must be ensuring those with first doses receive their second dose at the appropriate time.
Additionally, we have three mobile vaccination units which are each capable of handling 50 appointments per day, a total of 150 appointments per day through all three. We will use them to target eligible people in hard to reach populations of the County. We completed a test of our mobile vaccination unit on a small scale, where we successfully provided vaccinations at a domestic violence shelter. We are working to ramp up this program so we can reach more Prince Georgians.
Our County Health Department will deploy these mobile vaccination units all around our County. One of these units will partner with CASA to vaccinate eligible residents in our Latino community. We also plan to do pop-ups at churches to get to our broader community. We will rely on data from our COVID-19 numbers and our pre-registration list to determine where we will send these mobile units, to ensure we are distributing vaccines equitably across the County to those who need them most.
OUT OF COUNTY RESIDENTS
When we began our mass vaccination efforts in January, following the opening of our Sports and Learning Complex in Landover, our Health Department received guidance from the State that said we should not limit our vaccination clinics just to County residents and those who worked in the County. As a result, we initially placed the State’s registration link on our Health Department website. The unfortunate result was thousands of individuals who neither lived nor worked in Prince George’s securing appointments.
A short time later, we received new guidance that allowed the County to restrict its vaccine supply to our residents and workers, and our Health Department immediately corrected course. Our Health Department staff went through and manually cancelled thousands of appointments of those who neither lived, nor worked in Prince George’s. However, I have heard questions and concerns from people who believed that hundreds or thousands of appointments went to residents of other jurisdictions, and I can tell you that did not occur.
During the week of January 18, we only had two full days of vaccinations at the Sports and Learning Complex due to the holidays. On January 21 and 22, we provided 1,726 vaccinations. Of those, 965, or 56%, went to Prince Georgians. During those two days, we provided 423 vaccinations to residents 75 and older. Of those, 68% were Prince Georgians, and only 134 vaccinations were provided to non-county residents from this group.
Of the other non-county residents to receive the vaccine during those two days, 176 were educators, 117 were healthcare providers, and 85 were first responders, who were all eligible to receive it based on employment rather than residency. So, we did administer a small number of doses to those who did not live or work in Prince George’s County. As soon as we became aware of this, we cancelled thousands of appointments made by ineligible non-residents. Since that time, we have not made appointments for individuals who do not live or work in Prince George’s County.
What I can tell you is that the vaccine is safe and effective. I have had both doses, and I will work as hard as I can to make sure that each Prince Georgian who wants to be vaccinated, can be vaccinated. I will also work hard to provide those who are uncertain about getting vaccinated with the information they need to be informed. We must be Prince George’s Proud to be Protected together, because these vaccines are not just to protect ourselves, but they protect our friends and loved ones. The sooner we are protected, the sooner we can return to a sense of normalcy.
I ask for your patience as we move through this process together, and I ask for your partnership as we work to protect our community. I urge you to continue reading the rest of this vaccine bulletin below, which provides the latest data, updates, and other critical pieces of information about the vaccination process in our County. We have promised to be open and transparent with you during this process, and this is another way we are delivering on that promise.
Yours in service,
Prince George’s County Executive
County Health Department Pre-Registration List
In order to receive a COVID-19 vaccine through the Prince George’s County Health Department, individuals who live or work in the County must fill out our pre-registration form. Over 123,000 pre-registrations have been received as of February 9, and 110,000 are County residents. 63% of County residents who have pre-registered are eligible in Phase 1. The County Health Department is only scheduling appointments for individuals on the pre-registration list.
The numbers from this list will continue to fluctuate as more Prince Georgians pre-register for vaccinations, and as others receive appointments at our clinics and are removed from the list. There are an estimated 270,000 people eligible in all of Phase 1 of the County’s phased distribution plan, and as additional residents pre-register, we will continue to prioritize scheduling appointments for those who are currently eligible under Phase 1A and 1B, and then Phase 1C.
As a reminder, pre-registering with the County Health Department only puts you on the waiting list for an appointment at our Health Department’s clinics. The clinics operated by the State, local hospitals, or pharmacies in the County have separate registration processes.
Vaccine Supply & Administration
The County Health Department can vaccinate approximately 1,600 people per day, and that will increase to 1,900 per day with the opening of a new vaccination clinic next week. We continue to ramp up our distribution efforts, so we will be able to administer even more doses per day as vaccine supply increases.
The County is dependent on the State for vaccine supply. During the week of February 8, the County Health Department received 7,000 doses of vaccines in two separate shipments. To date, the County has received 32,000 doses of vaccines, and has administered 22,731 of those doses, approximately 71%. This metric (percentage of vaccine administered) changes day to day as new vaccine shipments come in.
Between now and February 26, we have a total of 13,431 appointments scheduled. 4,960 of these appointments are first dose appointments, and 8,345 of these appointments are second dose appointments.
While the County Health Department currently operates three vaccination clinics in the County, with a soft launch of a fourth site beginning next week, there are a number of vaccination sites available in Prince George’s County that are not operated by the County. Each site not operated by the County has its own vaccine appointment scheduling process to distribute vaccines received directly from the State. While this is not ideal, we encourage you to sign up at these other sites to increase your options to receive a COVID-19 vaccine appointment. Please remember that we do not manage nor control appointments, or distribution for any sites besides those operated by our County Health Department.
Prince George’s County Health Department
- Locations: Health Department’s Cheverly Health Center, Wayne K. Curry Sports & Learning Complex, Southern Regional Technology & Recreation Complex
- Appointments: Individuals who live or work in Prince George’s County should fill out the pre-registration form to be added to the waiting list. Individuals who cannot fill out the pre-registration form online should call 311 and press # for assistance.
Six Flags America Theme Park (Not County-Operated)
- Appointments: All appointments have been booked. Future appointments will be released and available online at covidvax.maryland.gov.
Safeway Pharmacies (Not County-Operated)
- Locations: There are several Safeway pharmacies offering COVID-19 vaccinations in the County.
- Appointments: Eligible individuals can learn more and view available appointments online here.
Giant Food Pharmacies (Not County-Operated)
- Locations: There are several Giant Food pharmacies offering COVID-19 vaccinations in the County.
- Appointments: Eligible individuals can learn more and view available appointments online here.
Hospital Clinics (Not County-Operated)
- Locations: Major hospital systems in the County are each running their own vaccination clinics.
- Appointments: You can use covidvax.maryland.gov to locate hospital clinics offering vaccinations and learn how to register for appointments.
We have established the following partnerships with the State and other organizations to assist in the mass vaccination of Prince Georgians.
- Luminis: Assisting with vaccinating staff at dialysis centers, and working with the Department of Family Services to provide vaccinations at senior living complexes.
- University of Maryland Capital Region Health: Assisting with vaccinating healthcare providers in the County.
- MedStar: Accepted seniors 75+ from County Health Department’s pre-registration list to fill appointment slots.
- Giant Food: Working with the Department of Family Services to provide vaccinations at senior living complexes.
- Kaiser Permanente: Assisting with vaccinating PGCPS employees.
- Maryland Department of Health (Six Flags): Some vaccination appointments will be set aside each week for eligible County residents from the County Health Department’s pre-registration list (residents can also still book appointments through the State site, as those appointments become available).
Progress Toward Vaccination Goals
Over 52,000 vaccines have been provided to 40,927 County residents, with 11,095 residents having received their second vaccination. There are an estimated 728,050 residents ages 16 and older, the minimum age for vaccination. Our goal is to have 473,232 residents vaccinated by this summer, or 65% of this population and 80% by this fall. We are at 8.6% of our summer goal. We anticipate revising our goal as new vaccines become available that include younger populations. You can stay updated on the County’s vaccination progress through our data dashboard.