MD health leaders warn against premature vaccine appointments

In Maryland, local leaders are warning against people using private links to sign up for coronavirus vaccines before they are eligible.

At just one hospital system: Holy Cross Health in Montgomery County, more than 2,000 people have already inappropriately signed up for vaccines meant for healthcare workers.

Howard County tweeted about the issue, writing in part of a thread on Thursday afternoon: 

Maryland Department of Health Spokesperson Charlie Gischlar told FOX 5 on Friday that "our cybersecurity teams are working with stakeholders to address this situation."

Howard County’s Health Department is asking people not to sign up for the vaccine unless they receive a link directly from their health department.

Those county health care providers or first responders who want to verify their appointment are being told to contact the county’s health department at (410) 313-6284.

Montgomery County Health Director Dr. Travis Gayles told FOX 5 on Friday that premature appointments could result in someone already prioritized to receive the vaccine not getting a needed appointment to receive it.

For local health leaders like Gayles, this also comes as health departments are trying to operate with an already limited vaccine supply due to a greater vaccine backlog.

Trump administration leaders anticipated Operation Warp Speed would be able to get 20 million vaccines out by the end of the year. According to the Center for Disease Control’s (CDC’s) latest data, only around 2.8 million people have received that first shot.

You can track vaccine administrations in your state through the CDC's vaccine dashboard.

This week, Maryland Governor Larry Hogan on "CBS This Morning" attributed the vaccine backlog to various issues, including the federal government not providing the dosages amounts to states it originally said it would.

Virginia Congressman Don Beyer blamed the President’s administration of not having a national distribution strategy after President Donald Trump wrote in part of a Wednesday tweet: "…Now it is up to the states to administer. Get moving!"

Dr. Gayles said as of Friday afternoon that he still did not know how many vaccine doses Montgomery County is scheduled to receive from the state next week.

"From the outside looking in, there’s a lots of people saying, ‘Hey, why aren’t they being pushed out?’ Well the challenge because, is, for example, there’s limited supply so we’re hamstrung in terms of being able to schedule things being based upon that. And then due to the bottlenecks, we’re not finding out how many doses we’re getting the following week until late in the week. So for example, I can’t tell you right now how many I’m going to get next week for sure."

In Maryland, Health Department Spokesperson Charlie Gischlar also told FOX 5 on Friday: "The state recently set a record of vaccinations with more than 10,000 vaccines reported in a single day (Dec. 30) and more than 7,000 vaccine reports from Dec. 31 for a cumulative  total of 54,060."

"Maryland has jumped ahead of 15 states on Bloomberg's vaccine tracker," Gischlar added. "We are laser-focused on getting shots into the arms of our Phase 1A individuals (hospital health care workers, nursing home residents/staff and first responders). COVID-19 vaccinations in Maryland are ramping up fast in every corner of the state."

Beyer, while critical of the president, also voiced gratitude over President Trump signing the COVID relief bill that will sent billions to states to further address the vaccine distribution effort.

In Virginia, an Alexandria health manager says they were able to administer around 90% of the vaccine’s they were able to receive.

The city health leader says they are getting a high volume of calls from people not yet eligible to receive the vaccine and are asking for more patience.