LARGO, Md. (FOX 5 DC) - Maryland opened two mass vaccination sites on Friday. However, less than 24 hours before the Six Flags site in Largo opened, some Marylanders were still trying to figure out why they couldn’t sign-up for an appointment just yet.
By Thursday afternoon, the Maryland governor’s office confirmed they turned to one of Prince George’s County’s pre-registration groups to get the ball rolling when Governor Larry Hogan and Prince George’s County Executive Angela Alsobrooks officially open the Six Flags mass vaccination site on Friday.
SKYFOX flew over the theme park and viewed tents up and lanes established. FOX 5 also saw Maryland National Guard members on the ground.
It was not immediately clear how many people will be vaccinated on Friday – or how much of the county’s pre-registration list the state will go through first before opening appointments to those outside the county.
A Thursday press release read: "Once that outreach—which began on Wednesday—is complete, additional appointments through Monday, February 15 will be made available to all eligible Marylanders. Due to high demand and very limited supply from the federal government, appointments are expected to fill up quickly."
A mass vaccination site at the Baltimore Convention Center will be open to all eligible Marylanders come Friday – that’s those who meet Phase 1A, 1B and 1C.
Officials expect appointments to book quickly with the high demand for vaccines. Now, walk-ins will be allowed.
Maryland Senator Paul Pinsky, who chairs the Committee on Education, Health and Environmental Affairs, criticized the state roll-out of the coronavirus vaccine, which at one point included people from outside of Prince George’s County being able to register for the county’s limited supply of vaccine doses while Maryland jurisdictions were limiting theirs.
Hogan called the Prince George’s and the Baltimore mass vaccination sites a "critical step forward" in taking the state from 2,500 to 25,000 shots a day. He also announced an additional $123 million for local health departments and their vaccination efforts. Some lawmakers are applauding the mass vaccination sites for Baltimore and Prince George’s, but are concerned other hard-hit areas may not have the same access. Pinksy says lawmakers have also reached out to Hogan, asking for a one-stop-shop website to register for the vaccine.
Pinksy tells FOX 5 he was originally told the Six Flags mass vaccination site would get around 975 doses a week.
"Now they might get 2-thousand, might get 3 thousand, 975 is a joke. I mean there should be a thousand vaccines a day, not a week," said the Maryland Senator, who also represents Prince George’s County, MD.
"…in Maryland, the rollout itself, which has been, I won’t say a disaster, but major problems: not enough for the local health departments. Now the state’s getting involved, there’s a lot of confusion. So look, am I glad there are going to be more vaccines available in Prince George’s County at the Six Flags? Absolutely. I’m still not satisfied and nor are most of my colleagues on the Maryland Senate," Pinsky added.
The lawmaker did say it is his understanding the vaccines going to these mass vaccination sites are separate from what’s being allocated to the local county health departments.
Maryland Department of Health spokesperson Charlie Gischlar told FOX 5 on Thursday via email: "Mass vaccination sites will be supplemented by hospitals, neighborhood pharmacies, and county health departments as part of an expanding distribution network. Each county gets an equitable and proportionate share based on population."
Starting February 15, the state is launching a toll-free state-wide call center to also help make appointments.
The governor’s office said a mass vaccination site at M&T Bank Stadium is expected to open mid-February, and that the state is still finalizing plans for sites in the western and southern portions of the state – along with a mass vaccination site on the Eastern Shore.
Hogan’s office says around 73.9% of all first coronavirus vaccine doses received from the federal government have been given.