BALTIMORE (WJZ)– Baltimore’s M&T Bank Stadium, the home of the Ravens, had a “soft opening” as the state’s third COVID-19 mass vaccination site on Thursday morning.

Bebe Fairchild from Baltimore County was among the first to get the shot here.

“I just felt supported all the way through,” Fairchild said. “Once I had that appointment made, I just got this weight lifted off my shoulders. I know I still have to be safe, but it just feels like we’re moving ahead.”

 

Fairchild also got a one-on-one audience with Maryland Governor Larry Hogan, talking to him about the appointment process as he toured the stadium’s club level.

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“Here today, it was most excellent. All of these professionals getting together and just doing really well by the public. This is how it should be run,” said Jerry Biggs, who accompanied Fairchild and was also vaccinated today.

If there is enough supply by the end of next week, 2,000 vaccines will be administered daily here by appointment only. That number could eventually jump to 10,000.

For now, the appointments are limited to 250 people. The site will be open seven days a week.

“It’s beautiful. It’s really incredible and amazingly organized—ready to handle and scale up the volume as soon as we get more doses. People were really excited to get the vaccine. It is just a tremendous effort by all the team members,“ said Governor Hogan.

 

Hogan joked that he felt like he was at a Ravens game—with a twist.

“When you go up to the bar, they have vaccines and pharmacists back there. It looks like the beer taps are still there, and I was a little disappointed you couldn’t get a hot dog and a beer, but they’re doing a great job of getting vaccines done,” the governor said.

There are 74 vaccination stations, and the setup took several weeks.

“We’re ready to go. We are going to play a large part in helping the community get back on their feet,” said Maryland Air National Guard Captain Kelly Plakosh.

WJZ Investigator Mike Hellgren asked the governor whether he plans to reserve doses for Baltimore City residents. Mayor Brandon called for thousands of doses to be set aside earlier this week.

“Yeah, I think that’s one of the things that the Equity Task Force will be talking about,” Hogan said. “…As of last week, Baltimore City had gotten far more than they really were entitled to. We’ve got now two mass vaccination sites here. The city health department is only doing 14 percent of the shots here in the city. We’re doing—with other partners—86 percent of the effort.”

“We have the vaccines here, we’ve just got to get more people in these communities the vaccine, which is why we’re going out into the community,” he told Hellgren. “This weekend, the general and lieutenant governor will be out at churches in Baltimore City, and we’re all focused on this equity issue—but Baltimore city, we’ve been doing everything we possibly can to help them. Our partners are trying to help them, and we will continue to do so.”

Even though vaccine supply is still limited, the advantage of opening the site now is it will be ready once more doses come in. They are likely to surge if the Baltimore-made Johnson& Johnson vaccine gets federal approval this week. The Food and Drug Administration is meeting tomorrow to discuss findings that the single-dose vaccine is safe and effective.

“Hopefully, it will be approved on Friday. I think we are going to get guidance over the weekend, and we should start seeing those doses arrive in our state next week, which is tremendously exciting. It is going to add to the arsenal to go after this virus.”

Starting next month, Maryland will launch a single website to make appointments for all mass vaccination sites. Several more are expected to open across Maryland.

Many of those lucky enough to get the shot here said the first day went smoothly.

“Obviously a little VIP visit here, but even with that distraction, everything was great,” said Steven Studniarz, who received his vaccine Thursday. “It’s almost a little overwhelming how many people are helping you through. Almost every 20 feet, it seems there is someone helping you along the way.”

Here is more information on the site.

To request an appointment, complete a form online at covidvax.maryland.gov or call 855-MD-GOVAX (634-6829).

Watch: Gov. Hogan Speaks After Touring M&T Bank Mass COVID-19 Vaccination Site

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.