2020 | Coronavirus

Distribution of Moderna vaccine begins this week for hospitals, nursing homes

County officials yet to receive any doses for distribution

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Todd Laubach, an emergency room nurse for Adventist HealthCare in Montgomery County, was one of the health care system's first employees to receive the vaccine last week.

Photo from Adventist HealthCare

This story was updated at 10:24 a.m. on Dec. 22, 2020, to include additional details on Suburban’s vaccine distribution and clarify Holy Cross’s policy regarding the vaccines.

After getting swift federal authorization for emergency use, the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine is being distributed throughout Maryland — only about a week after Pfizer’s vaccine went out to hospitals across the state, including the six in Montgomery County.

On Monday, the state announced that it has allocated more than 191,000 Pfizer and Moderna vaccine doses, expected to be enough to vaccinate 90% of hospital staff members, who are considered a front-line priority.

Nursing home residents and employees are expected to begin receiving the two-dose vaccines later this week through a federal program that partnered with CVS and Walgreens to administer the vaccines in the long-term care facilities.

In a press release Monday morning, state officials said that each local health department would receive an initial 100-dose shipment of the Moderna vaccine, but did not say when.

Mary Anderson, a spokeswoman for Montgomery County’s health department, told Bethesda Beat Monday afternoon that the county had not received any doses of the vaccines yet. She did not know when or how many doses the department would receive.

She said the county also has not tracked the number of vaccines that have been shipped to hospitals in the county, or how many hospital employees have been vaccinated so far.

The vaccine distributions are currently in the first phase, which is split into two priority groups. The phases are:
● Phase 1A: health care workers, first responders, and nursing home residents and staff members
● Phase 1B: residents with underlying health conditions who are more at significant risk of severe COVID-19 illness
● Phase 2: residents in critical, essential infrastructure jobs and those at moderately high risk of severe COVID-19 illness
● Phase 3: general population

The number of doses provided to each hospital is based on the number of high-risk staff members working at each hospital.

Gov. Larry Hogan announced on Monday afternoon that the state would provide vaccine doses for clinical health care workers at the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda.

NIH is the largest biomedical research agency in the world and has the world’s largest hospital completely dedicated to clinical research.

“With our earliest vaccinations focused on high-risk populations, we are providing a limited number of doses to NIH in order to vaccinate these Maryland-based front line healthcare workers,” Hogan said in the release.

Holy Cross Health, which owns and operates two hospitals in Germantown and Silver Spring, received a shipment of 975 doses of the Pfizer vaccine on Thursday.

Vaccinations at the hospitals began on Friday and the first full day of vaccinations, including more than 200 administered doses, was on Monday, according to Kristin Feliciano, a spokeswoman for Holy Cross Health.

“This initial cohort is comprised of those at greatest work related exposure risk,” she wrote in an email to Bethesda Beat Monday night. “There are roughly 2,500 individuals in this highest risk group. Today, we have more clinic slots for vaccination than we do vaccines, but our hope is that we will soon receive another Pfizer shipment and a Moderna shipment.”

Feliciano said the health system is offering the vaccine to all of its employees and is encouraging them to take it, but it is not mandatory.

“If national numbers and our own local surveys prevail, we anticipate that roughly two-thirds of individuals will select to be vaccinated,” she wrote. “Staff members will maintain their assignments and we will all continue with protective equipment and precautions for the foreseeable future.”

Taylor Kelley, a spokeswoman for Adventist HealthCare, told Bethesda Beat in an email Monday evening that the health care system has administered vaccines to more than 500 health care workers during its first three days of vaccine clinics.

Adventist owns and operates White Oak Medical Center in Silver Spring and Shady Grove Medical Center in Rockville.

“Adventist HealthCare received a total of 1,950 doses of the Pfizer vaccine in the initial shipment last week,” she wrote. “This week, we expect another shipment of Pfizer doses and our first shipment of Moderna vaccine.”

Kelley did not say how many doses the system expects to receive this week. The health care system expects to have enough doses of vaccine for all of its health care workers to receive their first shots in about a month, she wrote.

Danny Jacobs, a spokesman for Johns Hopkins Medicine, told Bethesda Beat on Monday evening that the health care system received doses of the Pfizer vaccine on Dec. 14 and began administering it to employees two days later.

Johns Hopkins operates Suburban Hospital in Bethesda, which has given the vaccine to 375 employees so far.

“Since supplies of the vaccines are limited, Johns Hopkins medicine has developed a prioritization framework to help determine the order in which the vaccine will be offered and administered to our health care personnel,” he said.

Clinical and nonclinical staff members at the health system who are essential to delivering care and support to patients with and without COVID-19 will be the first to be offered the vaccine through a random selection process, he said.

Johns Hopkins Medicine is not requiring employees to receive the vaccine, according to Jacobs.

Marianne Worley, a spokeswoman for MedStar Montgomery Medical Center in Olney, told Bethesda Beat in an email Monday afternoon that the health system has 30,000 employees throughout the region, but a vaccine is not being mandated for them.

She did not have details of how many doses of vaccine have come in and been administered.

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