Vaccination efforts target rural Marylanders


HANCOCK, Md. (WDVM) — Maryland has passed the milestone of vaccinating more than 4 million residents, but in some rural communities, access is a challenge. That issue brought Maryland’s Secretary of Health to Hancock on Wednesday.

Maryland is among the leading states in the nation for getting at least one dose to residents, but in rural Maryland, the vaccination rate is lagging.

“We’ve reached two and a half million people, but we still have 2.3 million adults to reach. So we’re going to do that thru a ground game,” said Secretary Dennis Shrader.

Senator George Edwards (R – Garrett, Washington Allegany counties) said, “We appreciate the secretary taking the time and look at the situation, talk to the local people and see what we can do to make sure we get as many people vaccinated as we can.”

But Delegate Mike McKay (R – Allegany, Washington counties) feels that in rural Maryland communities, a long commute to the vaccination site is a disincentive, a barrier. He and his staff are working to shorten that distance.

“We’re giving the assurance to those people over 65 who want to get the shot that it’s available and that we’re willing to come to you in your small town,” said McKay.

Former Allegany County Commissioner Bill Valentine is working with Delegate McKay to get the vaccination rates up for seniors in rural communities.

“What we want to do, we’ve got a local pharmacist that’s willing to go to the different fire departments,” Valentine explained. “I’ve got the fire departments right now contacting the people in their district to see how many people would participate.”

Delegate McKay is continuing to work with small businesses to recover from the econoic downturn during the pandemic. Meanwhile, Governor Hogan says more than four out of five Marylanders over age 65 have had at least one vaccine dose. Just over half the state population age 18 or older have had that first dose.

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