By BRIAN WITTE Associated Press

ANNAPOLIS, Md. (AP) — Maryland health care systems have received less than half of their expected allocations of second doses of the COVID-19 vaccine for frontline health workers this week, Maryland’s acting health secretary said Monday.

Dennis Schrader made the comment in response to a question from Sen. Clarence Lam, a Johns Hopkins physician, who asked about availability of second doses during a virtual hearing on vaccine distribution in Maryland. Schrader attributed the discrepancy to the transition between presidential administrations in Washington.

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Lam said he had heard about multiple hospitals and health systems on Monday having difficulties in getting second doses for their health care workers. He said there were second doses that were supposed to delivered last week that are still missing, and now second doses for health care workers this week “are less than half of what hospitals are expecting.”

“That is correct,” Schrader said. “We think that in the transition between the two administrations, HHS has been having a struggle reconciling the data, so we’re working with them.”

Schrader said state officials were “on the phone with them all weekend” trying to figure out what happened.

“They haven’t been able to put their finger on what the issue is,” Schrader said.

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Bill Hall, a spokesman for HHS, said the department is working closely with state health officials in Maryland “to clarify any misunderstanding.”

“No allocations provided to states have changed or lowered,” Hall wrote in an email. “All first and second doses allocated to states are being made available for them to order at the appropriate interval, in accordance with the published schedule and cadence. Accordingly, doses are being delivered at the quantities and locations directed by the states.”

Schrader said he believes in the transition between administrations “they’ve got a lot of new people trying to figure out how this data works.” However, Schrader said “they’re being very helpful, and our goal is to figure this out in the next few days.”

Lam asked about whether there was a plan, because “it’s causing a lot angst amongst frontline health care workers who have been through a lot obviously,” and now are concerned they can’t get their second dose.
Schrader said state officials are partners with the federal government, and “we’re putting a lot of pressure on them to figure this out, but it’s causing us a lot of angst, too.”

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