ANNAPOLIS, Md. (WJZ) — Outrage is growing over Maryland’s patchwork vaccination system with all Democrats in Maryland’s Congressional delegation demanding a centralized website and telephone hotline where people can make appointments.

They wrote a letter to Governor Hogan saying the vaccination program “is failing Marylanders.”

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“Across the state, Marylanders eligible for the vaccine are unable to schedule their appointments and do not know when, where, and by whom they can get vaccinated, leaving people and communities extremely frustrated. It is clear that the State is not meeting the needs of Marylanders, and we urge you to put forth a strategy and clear guidance that significantly improves Maryland’s vaccination program,” the lawmakers wrote.

 

“It is imperative we stop issuing sweeping directives without giving county health departments, local jurisdictions and educators tools they need to implement an effective vaccination program,” the federal lawmakers told Hogan.

CORONAVIRUS COVERAGE:

Fewer than 2 percent of Maryland’s population has received both vaccine doses. Fewer than 8 percent received a single dose so far. The state is grappling with supply issues from the federal government.

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In Baltimore, people had to be turned away from the main vaccination site at Baltimore City Community College in West Baltimore this week after they used the wrong links to make appointments. Those links were meant for second doses only. The city health department is not issuing any appointments for first doses for all of February.

 

“We are very adamant that we should not be burning second doses as first doses unless the federal government suddenly opens up the floodgates and we’ve got doses coming from everywhere, but I don’t believe that’s going to happen in the next eight to twelve weeks,” Acting Maryland Health Secretary Dennis Schrader told a Maryland General Assembly committee this week.

Schrader said the state believes a centralized website for appointments is not the best strategy and told House members such systems have been problematic in other states.

You can watch the hearing here.

Loyola University Maryland immunologist Dr. Christopher Thompson noted there will be issues with the large scope of vaccinations.

“The response is far from perfect, but we’ve never dealt with a pandemic of this nature in our generation so there’s a big learning curve,“ Dr. Thompson said

He is also worried about the new strains found in Maryland. At least three cases of the South African variant have been detected here.

“We should be a little nervous because they spread faster… But they do not appear to cause a higher severity of illness,“ he said.

He noted the state surpassed more than 7,000 deaths this week and encouraged people to continue to wear masks—and wear them properly over their mouth and nose.

“We can’t be complacent. We can’t stop doing all the things we’ve been doing,“ Dr. Thompson said.

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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.