February 4, 2021

Message from County Executive Marc Elrich

Dear Friends:

Once again, I want to try to answer some of your questions about COVID-19 vaccines.

What entities are getting supplies of vaccines this week to distribute?
  • This week, the State sent the County a little more than 12,000 first doses. This includes doses sent to the County Health Department, hospitals and related health systems and Safeway, Giant and Rite Aid pharmacies.
Since more pharmacies have been added for distribution, does that mean there are more vaccines?
  • No. Maryland continues to receive basically the same number of vaccine doses for distribution around the State. Montgomery County is receiving about the same number it has received in previous weeks, but there are now a few more places that will be distributing vaccines.
How can I get a vaccine appointment?
  • You can preregister with the County, and review all of the priority groups, on the County’s COVID-19 website at https://www.montgomerycountymd.gov/covid19/vaccine/. If you are in any of the eligible groups, you should click on the preregistration link. You should receive a confirmation email quickly, but it may be a while before you receive an appointment since the number of people who want vaccines far exceeds the number of vaccines available. In addition to the County health department, you also can try to get a vaccine appointment at one of the other providers. The list of other providers also is available at this website.

    This website lists the information for the pharmacies, local hospitals and health care providers that have been approved for distributing vaccines. It also has information if you are a veteran. We have asked the hospitals and health systems to prioritize giving vaccines to residents 75 and over and education staff. We do not have any information on who Safeway, Giant and Rite Aid are vaccinating. They receive the doses directly from the State and follow their respective distribution protocols.
Will teachers and other education staff have access to vaccines?
  • Yes. Hospitals and health care systems will provide those doses.
What is being done to get vaccines in the priority group for residents 75 and older?
  • The County health department is focusing its doses on this population and the hospitals and health care systems are also providing doses. Veterans are also eligible.
What if I know someone who is in a priority category that makes them currently eligible to receive a vaccine, but does not know how to register on a computer?
  • We have set up a phone line ONLY for preregistration. The Vaccine Preregistration Assistance line is available seven days a week from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. The number is 240-777-2982.
Are there procedures for child care providers to get vaccinations?
  • The County has set aside 100 doses for child care providers. Because the supply is so limited, an advisory committee has recommended that we begin with certain providers that serve special need children.
I am in an eligible priority group, so why can’t I get an appointment?
  • You are not alone. Even though all of us probably know someone who has been lucky enough to get a vaccine, there are many more people who have not yet been vaccinated. Demand for vaccine far exceeds the supply.
Where can I get more information?
  • Almost every Tuesday, the County’s Public Health Officer, Travis Gayles, and other County officials give an update to the County Council. Those briefings are televised live on the County cable station County Cable Montgomery (CCM). Every week, (usually on Wednesday), I hold a press briefing with Dr. Gayles; Earl Stoddard, the director of the Office of Emergency Management; and sometimes the Director of Health and Human Services Raymond Crowell. You can watch the briefing on the County cable station, Facebook, YouTube or by going to the County website homepage on the day of the briefing. The sessions are recorded and available for viewing in case you cannot view it live. Here is a link to this week’s briefing. And, of course, please check our website and I will continue to update you via this newsletter.

We hope that the Federal government will soon start get more vaccines that can be distributed to States. There is also hope that additional types of vaccines (in addition to the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines) will be approved in the coming weeks and months, but we won’t have a solution in the next few weeks. One additional pharmaceutical company applied today for emergency approval of its vaccine.

So please bear with us and know that when we get the vaccines, we are getting them into people’s arms. The County health department could vaccinate 20,000 to 25,000 people each week—if we had the vaccines.

I know this weekend is the Super Bowl—a time that people across the nation traditionally gather to be with friends and family. But this is not a traditional time, so please avoid gatherings, wash your hands frequently and wear a mask. That advice is for everyone—whether you have been vaccinated or not.

We will defeat this virus. It is just going to take some time, so let’s hang in there together.

Marc Elrich
County Executive