BALTIMORE (WJZ) — Maryland’s mass vaccination sites could start to wind down operations in a few weeks with fewer people coming in than at their peak, and top health officials are looking at incentives to persuade the unvaccinated to get the shot.
The state will eventually move the mass vaccination site resources to mobile vaccination sites and to targeting people directly where they live and work.READ MORE: COVID-19 In Maryland: Hospitalizations & Positivity Rate Decline Saturday
“We’re evaluating them every day in terms of their appointments. We were fortunate enough to see a nice surge when the [emergency use authorization] was approved for the 12 to 15-year-olds,” Bryan Mroz, Maryland’s Assistant Health Secretary, told WJZ Investigator Mike Hellgren. “We don’t want to close them down until we have gotten as many people as we can to these sites.”
Health Secretary Dennis Schrader told senators at a briefing Monday that getting the remaining people vaccinated is going to be difficult.
Senate President Ferguson says state will be moving into a new phase as Maryland has enough vaccine doses but now needs to further reach out to those hesitant to get them. Senators met yesterday to get an update on vaccinations https://t.co/XpLjRjbFUf @wjz
— Mike Hellgren (@HellgrenWJZ) May 18, 2021
“It took 6 months to get well over 3 million, it will probably take another 6 months to get the next 1 million. It’s just the way it’s going to work,” said Secretary Schrader. “This is going to be a grind.”
He also told lawmakers he is hoping parents of children 12 and older will make the choice to get them the shot. “We’re closing in on 10 percent. We’re watching closely to see how that demand holds.”READ MORE: ‘I’m Terrified’ At Least 20 People Shot This Week In Baltimore; Police Identify Victim of Deadly Mass Shooting
Maryland’s next goal is to get 70 percent of all adults vaccinated with one shot by Memorial Day, which is now less than two weeks away. Currently, Maryland is at 66 percent.
“There are some groups that are hesitant; there are some people who have lots of questions, and there are still groups that are searching for access. We want to move the vaccines as close to them as possible, make it as easy as we can,” Assistant Secretary Mroz said.
Lawmakers brought up the possibility of incentives—including a lottery like Ohio has—that gives out $1 million to winning adults who get their first shot.
“In terms of incentives, we’re looking at any and all opportunities,” Schrader said.
Governor Hogan told Hellgren last week he was open to more incentives but nothing has been finalized yet beyond the $100 given to state employees who pledge to fully vaccinate themselves and get all recommended booster shots.
“Whatever it takes. That’s my perspective. Whatever it takes,” Senate President Bill Ferguson said.MORE NEWS: 12-Year-Old Girl Hospitalized After Baltimore Hit & Run
Senator Clarence Lam also suggested to Secretary Schrader that the state consider increasing Medicaid reimbursements to nursing home facilities that increase the number of staff members who get vaccinated.