Maryland Vaccine Oversight Work Group discusses vaccine equity as state awaits Johnson & Johnson supply

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ANNAPOLIS, Md. (WDVM) — Even as Maryland celebrates victories like the approval of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, there are still many kinks to work out in the vaccine administration plan. Most notably, people across the state have been reporting a large racial disparity in vaccine administrations. Statistics show that black residents and Hispanic or Latino residents are not being vaccinated proportionately.

“Hispanics or Latinos are 11%, I think, of Maryland’s population, and to-date they’ve received about 4% of vaccines,” said Michael Powell, Vaccine Oversight Work Group staff.

While some chalk this disparity up to vaccine hesitancy amongst people of color, some Maryland Senators feel it has more to do with unfair allocation to vaccine distributors in primarily more white and more wealthy locations, as opposed to minority communities.

“You’re making a lot of people drive all over the state. Some can afford to do that,” said Ronald Young, district 3 Maryland Senator. “And there’s places right in those communities where you could put them, but you’re not.”

Still, Maryland health officials believe heavily distributing vaccines to locations like the mass vaccination sites is the best course of action.

“With all these doses coming, these mass vax sites are gonna be critical to get shots in arms,” said Dennis Schrader, acting secretary of health with the Maryland Department of Health.

Schrader also shared that Maryland — the 19th largest state — is keeping up well with vaccine distribution despite national criticism.

“Every day we are either 18 to 21. So we are right on the money with the rate of doses per day administered,” said Schrader.

State health officials are continuing to work with Maryland’s vaccine equity task force to ensure underserved populations aren’t being sidelined in the rollout.

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