TOWSON, Md. (WJZ) — Baltimore County officials announced it will be launching a coronavirus vaccine efficacy campaign called “Healing Starts Here.”
During a press conference from one of the county’s vaccination sites Wednesday, County Executive Johnny Olszewski said communities of color continue to be underrepresented among vaccine recipients.READ MORE: Fire Breaks Out At Canton Apartment Building
The campaign will include local athletes, representatives, faith-based leaders and social influencers — including Ravens cornerback Marlon Humphreys, Orioles outfielder Cedric Mullins and Baltimore Blast goalie William Vanzela.
Olszewski said the county continues to look for ways to improve access to its most vulnerable residents. The county is operating its own mass vaccinations sites and looking for more locations. They are offering Uber rides to health department’s vaccination clinics. The county also launched its mobile unit to help vaccinate people who cannot leave their homes.
“Our health department continues to explore additional ways to meet our community where they are and we will have more updates on those efforts in the coming weeks,” he said. “But we also know that many of our residents still aren’t ready to get vaccinated.”
He said misinformation about the vaccine as well as confusion about information related to how someone can sign-up to be vaccinated remain as issues.
According to the county executive, only 13% of those currently on Baltimore County’s vaccine registry are Black, while 30% of the county’s population is Black. Only 1.3% of the vaccine registry identify as Hispanic, while 5% of the county’s population is Hispanic.READ MORE: 'This Is 10K People Who Have Died' Maryland Woman Shares Story After Mom Dies From COVID-19, Urges People To Get Vaccinated
“We need to address these disparities, if we are going to bring this pandemic to an end,” Olszewski added. “That is why today, we’re proud to be launching a new targeted outreach campaign to spread the critical message that vaccines are safe and that these vaccines save lives.”
The county’s mass vaccination site was called a “Ferrari without enough gas,” according to Olszewski. He said the site could vaccinate upwards of 1,000 people per hour if there were enough doses. He said the county is only receiving 5,000 doses per week.
“The National Guard has been here. We’ve had multiple jurisdictions come out. And everyone looks at Baltimore County as the gold standard,” said Baltimore County Health Director Dr. Gregory Branch. “People are really trying to use what we have here in other locations. Even though we are ready and set, we are not a state mass vaccination.”
Gov. Larry Hogan announced Tuesday, Maryland would lift capacity restrictions on restaurant dining, retail, personal services and other businesses starting Friday, March 12 at 5 p.m. Larger indoor and outdoor venues will have a 50% capacity restriction. Masks will still be required.
Local jurisdictions can add to the governor’s restrictions, but Baltimore County officials said they continue to review the governor’s latest announcement and residents should expect an announcement soon.MORE NEWS: ‘This Loss Is Ours As A City’ Baltimore Hockey Team Mourns Two Young Members, Murdered In East Baltimore Shooting