ANNAPOLIS, Maryland (WJZ) – The Maryland Vaccine Equity Task Force, led by Brig. General Janeen Birckhead will surpass 500 clinics today. With the support of the working group, more than 133,000 vaccines have been administered in the 24 jurisdictions.
“Maryland continues to play the national leadership role on vaccine equity,” Governor Larry Hogan said. “General Birckhead and his team have succeeded by taking a data-driven approach and building a network of leaders and trusted clinical partners to reach underserved Marylanders. VETF’s missions will become even more critical in the coming weeks, as we strive to ensure that no arm is left behind. “
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The Maryland National Guard has supported the Marylanders since the start of the pandemic.
“Our team is committed to ensuring that no arm is left behind,” said Birckhead. “We will continue to partner with our communities in Maryland for vaccine distribution, saving lives.”
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Hogan created the VETF earlier this year to improve vaccine distribution and outreach efforts in communities disproportionately affected by Covid-19. Using a data-driven operational plan, VETF focuses on COVID-19 vaccination efforts for underserved and hard-to-reach populations, including those who may not have access to technology or transport.
These efforts include:
- Deploy mobile vaccination clinics in underserved areas, areas identified as communities of color or where vaccination acceptance rates are lower;
- Work with clinical partners in the most vulnerable areas to provide access to vaccines where the need is greatest;
- Direct outreach to vulnerable communities and faith-based organizations of all faiths to provide immunization opportunities and provide information on the safety and efficacy of COVID-19 vaccines
- Partnered with higher education institutions in Maryland, including the state’s historically black colleges and universities, to organize student clinics. Held virtual town halls at Morgan State University and Bowie State University to answer vaccine questions and respond to vaccine hesitancy;
- Deployment of a public health education unit, or “sound truck”, to target postal codes in hard-hit areas. The sound truck broadcasts messages in English and Spanish encouraging participation in mass vaccination efforts. The project included the participation of CASA of Maryland, which provided volunteers who distributed 3,000 fact sheets on COVID-19 and 3,000 free masks provided by the Maryland Department of Health.
- Expansion of the state’s multilingual call center to include direct assistance to people having difficulty getting vaccinated, especially homebound patients;
- Book vaccination appointments at mass vaccination sites to ensure that people residing in areas with vulnerable populations or high positivity rates are able to obtain a vaccine.
Recent VETF clinics include:
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- 198 vaccinations in Wheaton with CASA Maryland
- 172 vaccinations in Camp Springs at Camp Springs Central Baptist Church
- 78 vaccinations in the greenbelt of the Saint-Hugh Catholic Church in Grenoble
- 49 vaccinations in Pikesville with Bikur Cholim from Baltimore at the Ner Tamid Greenspring Valley Congregation Synagogue
- 41 vaccinations in Centerville at Centerville United Methodist Church
- 40 vaccinations at BWI Marshall Airport for Chimes employees
- 22 vaccinations in Cumberland with Boys and Girls Clubs
For the latest information on the coronavirus, visit the Maryland Department of Health website or call 211. You can find all of WJZ’s coverage at coronavirus in Maryland here.