ELLICOTT CITY, Md. (WJZ) – Howard County officials have partnered with Safeway to vaccinate more Howard County residents, focusing on students 18 and older in a clinic Thursday.

With younger people not getting vaccinated as much as older adults, the clinic is another way to reach them, Howard County Executive Calvin Ball said. Only half of residents between the ages of 18 and 24 have received a first dose of the Covid-19 vaccine, he said.

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“Our hope is many of these young people will encourage their peers, family, and friends to see the benefits of being vaccinated as well,” Ball said. “This effort is truly the definition of teamwork – with staff and vaccinators from our health department, our school system and Safeway.”

Staff from the county health department, assisted by nurses from the school system and Safeway pharmacists, vaccinated 1,200 students and residents during the clinic at the Meadowbrook Athletic Center, according to a statement from county officials. Safeway has provided 4,000 doses for students and residents, with a priority for students in Howard County public and private schools, Howard Community College and other trade schools in the county, such as Lincoln Tech.

These partnerships ensure that vaccine is accessible to all residents, said Dr. Maura Rossman, Howard County health officer. And those who are fully vaccinated can help spread the word about their experience, she said.

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“Now that vaccine is widely available to individuals 16 and older, I encourage everyone who is eligible to make a plan to get vaccinated. If you are already fully vaccinated, reach out to friends, family and neighbors and ask if they need help finding a vaccine appointment or want to talk about your vaccination experience to make a more confident decision,” she said.

Getting people vaccinated will help build herd immunity and increase the likelihood of returning to life before the pandemic, said Del. Courtney Watson, who represents District 9B.

“Having had three children in Howard County high schools not too long ago, I know how important it is for them to get back to a normal routine with school, extracurricular activities, and friends; and that was the motivation for me to develop this partnership with Safeway,” she said.

County schools superintendent Michael J. Martirano said the clinic can help with a return to in-person learning, fice days a week.

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Safeway was eager to participate, said Amir Masood, director of pharmacy, calling it a public service.

CBS Baltimore Staff