BALTIMORE (WJZ) — Maryland launched their new GoVAX campaign aimed at convincing people the vaccines are safe.

 

WJZ Investigator Mike Hellgren reports Maryland National Guard Brigadier General Janeen Birckhead is leading the effort.

“I have taken the vaccine, and I can tell you it was no different than receiving the flu shot,” Birckhead said.

You can watch the public service announcement here.

UMBC’s president Dr. Freeman Hrabowski and his wife were some of the first to get vaccinated during trials for the Moderna vaccine.

CORONAVIRUS COVERAGE:

“We’re in this together,“ Hrabowski said at the GoVAX news conference Friday. “We’re doing this not for ourselves. …We’re doing it for everyone around us.”

The state has faced criticism for a slow vaccine rollout.

Friday, Maryland reported another 22,868 first doses administered. More than seven percent of people in the Baltimore area have received at least one shot.

You can see the latest Maryland vaccination data here.

“We’re setting up all the infrastructure, but we don’t have enough vaccine,” Maryland Governor Larry Hogan said of the current challenges.

READ MORE: Marijuana Legalization Proposed In Maryland Legislature

 

“What’s going to be the most important thing—as you’ve heard time and time again—is getting more vaccines so that we can get it out,” said Baltimore City Mayor Brandon Scott.

The governor said it was tough at first to convince people working in the medical field to get the vaccine.

“We were a little bit surprised at the reluctance of health care workers…We provided enough to do 100 percent of them. The initial rollout was 30 percent of them,” Hogan said. He said the number has now increased to 80 percent.

 

The nation also faces a crisis with more contagious strains spreading across the country.

But there is encouraging news with Maryland’s positivity rate now under 6 percent. The new Johnson & Johnson vaccine candidate being produced in Baltimore is just waiting to get the green light from federal regulators.

That approval is expected to take two to four weeks.

“By the end of February, they will start shipping. They’re already produced,” Hogan said.

Johnson & Johnson released the results of its phase three vaccine trial Friday.

Results demonstrated 85 percent protection against severe coronavirus disease in adults of all ages and racial groups 28 days after vaccination.

The overall effectiveness rate for preventing moderate to severe illness was 72 percent in the U.S. and 66 percent across all countries studied, the pharmaceutical giant said.

Benefits include that it only requires one dose — as opposed to Moderna and Pfizer’s two-dose inoculations—and that it can be stored in a regular refrigerator.

MORE NEWS: External Cameras On Howard County Schools Buses Will Catch Drivers Who Pass Illegally

For the latest information on coronavirus go to the Maryland Health Department’s website or call 211. You can find all of WJZ’s coverage on coronavirus in Maryland here.

CBS Baltimore Staff