Maryland lays out plan to address vaccine equity in the state

Maryland leaders announced their plan today to address vaccine equity in the state through Maryland's Vaccine Equity Task Force.

Maryland National Guard Gen. Janeen Birckhead announced at a press conference that the task force will be partnering with a wide range of public and private entities to give every Marylander access to vaccines.

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Birckhead says data shows that vulnerable, underserved and hard-to-reach communities face both structural and informational barriers to vaccine access.

"We're not where we need to be with the black, Hispanic populations," Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan said. "We need to ramp that up."

The task force will review proposals from the community to assess their supportability.

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Gen. Birckhead will consider all staff recommendations and balance them with other pending requests and active programs. The task force will also facilitate discussion on vaccine allocation, ensuring task force consensus is documented.

The task force will use the 2020 census, Maryland internal data, the CDC's social vulnerability index and many other sources to determine which populations in Maryland need to be reached.

"The Vaccine Equity Task Force is here to make sure every Marylander knows the facts, and facilitates the opportunity for vaccination in underserved communities, vulnerable communities, and at-risk groups. Equity matters," said General Birckhead. "With targeted investments in education, outreach, and vaccine locations, we can mitigate the impact of inequality on the uptake of vaccines. The equity task force is energized and engaged, and we’re looking forward to working with you and your community."

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The Maryland Department of Health has also launched a support center focused on vaccine outreach for the state's vulnerable populations. The center is open 7 days a week from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. Marylanders can call the center at 1-855-MDGOVAX (1-855-634-6829).