2021 | Coronavirus

County officials have administered about 3,700 COVID-19 vaccine doses

Another 8,600 doses expected this week

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This story was updated at 11:33 a.m. on Jan. 5, 2021, to include a comment from MedStar Montgomery Medical Center.

Montgomery County officials have administered roughly 3,700 of the COVID-19 vaccines they have received from the state so far.

As of Monday, the county government had received 4,300 doses of the Moderna vaccine and expects a shipment of another 8,600 this week.

The numbers do not include the number of vaccine doses separately sent to hospitals or to pharmacies to distribute to nursing homes.

The state has established a system in which people are being vaccinated in phases.

Vaccine distribution and inoculation is currently in Phase 1A, which includes hospital workers, medical providers, first responders, and nursing home residents and employees.

Dr. James Bridgers, the county’s deputy health officer, wrote in an email Monday evening that the completion of Phase 1A in the county will depend on the vaccine supply received from the state. He did not provide an estimate of when the first subgroup of Phase 1 would finish.

As the county receives more vaccine doses, officials are providing a survey to medical providers, first responders, and other health care workers. The county also is providing them a specific link to a management platform called PrepMod to register for an appointment at a vaccine clinic.

“Filling out the survey is the first step and then they’ll be notified as doses become available and clinics scheduled,” Mary Anderson, a spokeswoman for the county’s health department, wrote in an email Monday afternoon.

Vaccine clinic workers are checking identification, including work IDs and photo IDs, to verify registration and inclusion in the right vaccine phase, Anderson said.

Bridgers wrote that the county would continue to support phone registration assistance, as it does for testing, for those without access to the internet and who need interpretation support.

Other phases

The next phase — Phase 1B — will include residents with underlying health conditions who are more at significant risk of severe COVID-19 illness, frontline essential employees, and residents 75 or older.

According to Bridgers, as groups are identified and confirmed to be in the Phase 1B group of essential workers, the county is identifying contacts within those employment sectors to communicate planning and notification.

“[The] individual registration system may be similar to health care, or could be expanded to include additional providers, depending on the vaccine availability,” he wrote.

The other vaccine phases include:
● Phase 1C: essential workers, residents age 65 to 74, residents age 16 to 64 with high-risk conditions
● Phase 2: residents with moderate risk of COVID-19 illness, residents age 16 and older not in Phase 1
● Phase 3: general population

Mike Ricci, a spokesman for Gov. Larry Hogan, posted on Twitter that Hogan plans to address vaccine phases, timelines and populations at a press conference Tuesday afternoon. Maryland has about 500,000 people in Phase 1A, he wrote.

Montgomery County Council Member Hans Riemer posted on Facebook Monday morning that he was seeking clarification at the county level for who, how and when groups 1A, 1B and 1C would be vaccinated.

He said he also requested information from the county’s executive branch for how many people are in each group, how they will be able to access vaccinations and when each phase would begin.

“I hope the executive branch can gather this information and share answers promptly,” he wrote in his post.

Bridgers said it was “challenging” to predict how many people are in each vaccine phase in the county without “official definitions” of essential workers yet.

“As they are added, determining populations included is part of our outreach process,” he wrote. “To give you an idea of scope, the population of 65 and over in Montgomery County is estimated at more than 170,000. This includes both the 1B and 1C age-related groups. We are also waiting on federal recommendations for health conditions to include in 1C.”

As far as whether residents will go to the county clinics, hospitals or other medical providers, Bridgers said that with increased vaccine availability and the growing groups recommended in each phase, it “may well involve all of them.”

Unauthorized registrations

On Saturday, Holy Cross Health announced that more than 2,000 people who aren’t eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine had signed up for its employee-only clinics.

In a statement on Saturday, the health system, which operates two hospitals in Silver Spring and Germantown, said a registration link for employees was shared by one or more employees with family and friends, resulting in residents registering for the vaccine.

In an email Monday afternoon, Kristin Feliciano, a spokeswoman for Holy Cross Health, wrote that the health system canceled its clinics that community members signed up for. People received a note from about the cancellation from the registration system.

“In addition, our chief clinical officer sent emails to each of the individuals that signed up, alerting them that they had entered into a system that was dedicated to health system colleagues and medical staff, therefore their appointment would be canceled,” she wrote. “We will continue to work with the county and the state so that when it is time to vaccinate community members, Holy Cross Health will support the need.”

Feliciano said a “small handful” of residents who mistakenly signed up for vaccinations meant for health employees arrived at the hospital on Monday.

“They were met by our team members who shared that we could not provide vaccination for them at this time, since we are currently abiding by our CDC guidelines and only vaccinating 1A individuals,” she wrote. “While they were disappointed, they understood.”

The health system has vaccinated about 2,200 employees of its nearly 6,000 who are eligible, according to Feliciano.

Second doses for the two-dose Pfizer vaccine will begin to be administered next week.

Taylor Kelley, a spokeswoman for Adventist HealthCare, said more than 2,300 of its employees have been vaccinated at Shady Grove Medical Center in Rockville and White Oak Medical Center in Silver Spring.

She said Adventist has several measures in place to prevent its vaccine registration link from being accidentally sent out to residents who are not in the first vaccine group.

“Invitations remind employees that family and friends are not eligible in this phase of vaccination and that team members should not forward or use forwarded invitations to register in PrepMod,” she said. “Employees are respecting these guidelines.”

Each individual at the health system’s vaccine clinics is asked to present an Adventist ID. In addition, the clinics are in the hospitals, which visitors cannot access, she said.

MedStar Montgomery Medical Center in Olney also hasn’t had issues with its vaccine registration information being shared outside of its employees, according to hospital spokeswoman Marianne Worley.

The hospital created its own registration system instead of using PrepMod, she wrote in an email Tuesday morning.

A spokesman for the county’s sixth hospital — Suburban in Bethesda — did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Briana Adhikusuma can be reached at briana.adhikusuma@bethesdamagazine.com.