ANNAPOLIS, Md. (WJZ) — The Maryland Vaccine Equity Task Force, led by Brig. Gen. Janeen Birckhead, will surpass 500 clinics today. With the support of the task force, more than 133,000 vaccines have been administered across all 24 jurisdictions.

“Maryland continues to serve as a national leader on vaccine equity,” Gov. Larry Hogan. “General Birckhead and her team have succeeded by taking a data-driven approach and building a network of trusted leaders and clinical partners to reach underserved Marylanders. The VETF’s missions will become even more critical in the weeks ahead as we work to ensure no arm is left behind.”

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The Maryland National Guard has supported Marylanders since the beginning of the pandemic.

“Our team is committed to ensuring no arm is left behind,” Birckhead said. “We’ll continue to partner with our Maryland communities for the vaccine distribution, ultimately saving lives.”

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Hogan established the VETF earlier this year to enhance vaccine distribution and outreach efforts in communities disproportionately affected by Covid-19. Utilizing a data-driven operational plan, the VETF focuses on COVID-19 vaccination efforts for underserved and hard-to-reach populations, including those who may not have access to technology or transportation.

These efforts include:

  • Deploying mobile vaccination clinics in underserved areas, areas identified as communities of color, or where there are lower vaccination acceptance rates;
  • Working with clinical partners in the most vulnerable areas to provide access to vaccines where the need is greatest;
  • Making direct outreach to vulnerable communities and faith-based organizations of all denominations to offer vaccination opportunities, and provide information about the safety and efficacy of COVID-19 vaccines;
  • Partnering with Maryland’s higher education institutions, including the state’s Historically Black Colleges and Universities, to hold student clinics. Held virtual town halls at Morgan State University and Bowie State University to respond to questions about the vaccines and address vaccine hesitancy;
  • Deploying a Public Health Education Unit, or “sound truck,” to target zip codes in hard-hit areas. The sound truck broadcasts messages in English and Spanish that promote participation in mass vaccination efforts. The project has included participation from CASA de Maryland, which provided volunteers who distributed 3,000 COVID-19 information sheets and 3,000 free masks provided by the Maryland Department of Health.
  • Expanding the state’s multilingual call center to include direct assistance for people having difficulties obtaining a vaccine, particularly homebound patients;
  • Reserving vaccination appointments at mass vaccination sites to ensure individuals residing in areas with vulnerable populations or with a high positivity rate are able to secure a vaccine.

Recent VETF clinics include:

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  • 198 vaccinations in Wheaton with CASA de Maryland
  • 172 vaccinations in Camp Springs at Central Baptist Church of Camp Springs
  • 78 vaccinations in Greenbelt at St. Hugh of Grenoble Catholic Church
  • 49 vaccinations in Pikesville with Bikur Cholim of Baltimore at the Ner Tamid Congregation Greenspring Valley Synagogue
  • 41 vaccinations in Centreville at Centreville United Methodist Church
  • 40 vaccinations at BWI Marshall Airport for Chimes employees
  • 22 vaccinations in Cumberland with the Boys and Girls Clubs

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