ANNAPOLIS (WJZ) — Maryland moves into Phase 2B on Tuesday, making all residents age 16 and older with disabilities and certain medical conditions that increase the risk for severe COVID-19 illness eligible for the vaccine.

What medical conditions qualify? The state directs residents to follow the CDC’s list, which includes being overweight or obese, pregnancy, chronic lung diseases and heart conditions.

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People who are receiving hospital care and are diagnosed with conditions including cancer, diabetes and sickle cell disease already qualify in a phase earlier this year.

State officials announced the shift in groups last week. Carol Beatty, Secretary of Maryland Department of Disabilities thanked Gov. Larry Hogan for recognizing the “increased risk of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities,” and placing them in Phase 2B.

Beatty cited research that non-elderly people with disabilities who receive long-term supports and services not in a nursing home face similar COVID-19 risk factors compared to those in nursing homes, urging the importance of the vaccine.

“Many people with disabilities rely on the close physical proximity of caregivers for their daily needs, which limits their ability to adopt preventative measures, such as social distancing. Today’s announcement of the inclusion of a broader group of people with disabilities and phase two they addresses the equity concerns for people with disabilities,” Beatty said.

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Pre-registration has been open for Phase 1, Phase 2A, and Phase 2B, but now anyone in these groups can sign up online or by calling your pharmacy, or 1-855-MD-GOVAX or COVIDvax.maryland.gov.

The state said last week as this group opens up, they will be working on accommodations to help them get to a mass vaccination site in an accessible way. This could include pop-up clinics, though they have not announced anything official on those plans.

Here’s what’s coming next for Marylanders and the vaccine as the phases continue into April: 

Phase 2C will open on April 13, which includes any Marylander 55 and older and essential workers in critical industries.

Phase 3 will begin on April 27, which includes all Marylanders ages 16 and up. At this time, everyone but children will essentially be able to get their COVID-19 vaccine.

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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.

CBS Baltimore Staff