Montgomery County’s senior official is concerned that the suburb of Washington, DC, County will not have enough COVID-19 shots to fully vaccinate children in the community.
County Director Marc Elrich on Wednesday expressed concern over the reduced number of doses the county received last week from the Maryland Department of Health.
The county received 7,000 doses from the state on Friday, he said, and officials signaled the county might not receive any doses this week or next.
Montgomery County Health and Human Services received 13,200 doses in its first vaccine delivery, according to Mary Anderson, the agency’s spokeswoman.
“We need to make sure we have doses to cover secondary shots for everyone who is vaccinated in the first days of the clinic,” said Mr. Elrich. “We canceled planned clinics that we sponsored with MCPS (Montgomery County Public Schools) last weekend. I hope the state notices this discrepancy and increases the supply to the county government.
“There are a lot of doses in freezers – not ours – around the county that just sit there and could be put out, and if the state wanted to move those doses from places where they are not being used to us, where we can actually use them , it would be a huge help to speed up the number of vaccinations in the county, ”he said.
Mr. Elrich said the county only controls the vaccine doses given directly to it, not the other doses given to pharmacies, private clinics and doctors in the jurisdiction.
Sean O’Donnell, Montgomery County Health and Human Services, director of public health, said there has been an increase in booster shots over the past many weeks in addition to pediatric vaccinations.
As of Monday, more than 14,200 booster shots have been administered through county-sponsored clinics, Ms. Anderson. In the past three weeks, the county has vaccinated about 20,000 children, according to Mr. Elrich. Nearly 10% of residents who have received a COVID-19 vaccine are 16 years or younger as of Wednesday, according to county health data. This age group makes up almost 22% of the county’s total population.
Earl Stoddard, the county’s assistant chief executive, said about 39,000 vaccine doses have been given to the county as a whole. Of those, he said about 19,700 doses have been distributed, meaning 50% of the doses received in the county have not been distributed at this time. But all doses given to the county health department were distributed, so doses that have not been distributed are in pharmacies and elsewhere throughout the county, he said.
Mr. Stoddard said the federal government needs to do a better job of getting more vaccine doses to Maryland while the state can reconsider how it distributes its allocated supply.
“We certainly encourage the state of Maryland to look at who has doses in refrigerators and move doses from them or certainly future doses that are not sent to them, but rather to partners who distribute the doses,” he said. “But there are other partners out there who got other doses out. We encourage them to also receive doses in larger numbers because doses in refrigerators obviously will not protect our 5- to 11-year-olds during Thanksgiving and the other winter holidays.”
Raymond Crowel, director of Montgomery County The Department of Health and Human Services said it received a notification that Maryland has moved up the deadline this week to order vaccine doses from manufacturers and the federal government in hopes of getting doses early next week.
He said, however, that the county still needs to reserve some of the 7,000 doses it received last week to guarantee it can administer additional doses. While some schools are hosting pediatric vaccine clinics this week, he said the county needs to hold on to most of the 7,000 doses until it receives confirmation that enough extra doses are coming in.
Andy Owen, a spokeswoman for the Maryland Department of Health, said the agency expects nearly 89,000 more pediatric doses to be delivered next week for use nationwide. He did not clarify whether Montgomery County will receive any of these doses, and if so, how many.
“Like all states, we depend on the federal government to provide all COVID-19 vaccine doses,” he said.