Montgomery County leaders continue push for mass vaccination site, state says no

Maryland

MONTGOMERY COUNTY, Md. (WDVM) — Some Montgomery County lawmakers remain frustrated with Maryland’s vaccine rollout, as state-level leaders say no to a state-run mass vaccination site in the county.

County leaders have offered up the Montgomery County Agricultural Fairgrounds in Gaithersburg and a few other locations as potential mass vaccination sites, but the state says they won’t sponsor one in Montgomery County right now.

“When I asked, the answer was, “Well, [the state has] an agreement with Six Flags and Six Flags already has tents.” As if we don’t have tents at the fairgrounds, or can’t secure them,” said Council President Tom Hucker on Monday morning.

Hucker added the lack of a mass vaccination site is making it tough to get more shots into the arms of Montgomery County residents.

“Making our residents drive to Six Flags in Prince George’s, while Baltimore City gets two mass vaccinations locations is not fair or equitable,” said Hucker.

The state operates mass vaccination sites at Six Flags America in Bowie and two sites in Baltimore City, at M&T Bank Stadium and the Baltimore Convention Center.

The county’s Health and Human Services chief Dr. Raymond Crowel weighed in on what the state is telling him, saying, “there’s evidence, and it’s clearly the case, that Montgomery County residents can drive and reach those vaccinations sites like Six Flags and those in other counties.”

Hucker says it’s not fair to people who lack transportation or have to take hours off from work to go out of the county to get a vaccine.

Dr. Crowel says we can’t lose sight of the importance of testing. The county has seen around a 20 percent drop in testing volume in recent weeks.

“Testing helps us to identify the hotspots where the risk is greatest, and it guides our vaccination efforts, so we are still encouraging people to get tested,” said Dr. Crowel.

The county is still waiting on the delivery of several thousand doses of vaccines that were stuck in transit due to winter weather. Dr. Crowel says he hopes those doses come early this week, or else the county may need to reschedule appointments.

Montgomery County’s current case rate is the lowest it has been since late October, currently sitting at 12.3 cases per 100,000 residents.

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