The COVID-19 Vaccine Distribution Plan in Maryland

Posted on 04/22/21 by Andrew Soergel, Catherine Maddux

En español | Who can get vaccinated now?

  • Marylanders age 16 and older are eligible to pre-register for vaccination at a mass vaccination site on the state's online system (Phase 3).
  • Maryland has paused distribution of the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine because of a type of blood clot that has developed in a small number of people after vaccination. The federal government has called the reaction “extremely rare” but “serious.” If you have an appointment for the J&J vaccine, your provider or state or local health department may honor it with a different vaccine or may reach out to reschedule for a different vaccine. You can also contact your provider or the health department for more information. 

Where can I get vaccinated? 

  • State vaccine locator: Use the state's searchable database, covering hospitals, health clinics, retail pharmacies and mass vaccine sites, to find a vaccination site near you. You'll need to contact the vaccination site to make an appointment. You can also call the Maryland health department toll-free at 877-319-1525 and follow updates on Maryland’s COVID-19 vaccine page
  • Retail pharmacies: You can sign up online for vaccinations at certain Safeway and Rite AidCVS Pharmacy (including those located within some Target stores) and Walgreens locations. Follow the links to register and schedule appointments.
  • Mass vaccination sites: Pre-register online to schedule an appointment at a mass vaccination site at massvax.maryland.gov or by calling state's COVID-19 vaccination support center at 855-634-6829. A site is now open at Montgomery College’s Germantown campus along with a federally-backed community vaccine site at the Greenbelt Metro station. You must pre-register with massvax.maryland.gov and select Greenbelt Metro Station to get an appointment or call 855-634-6829. Other sites are available across the state: At Live! Casino and Hotel in Anne Arundel County (register online or call 410-222-3663); the Baltimore Convention Center (register online or call 443-462-5511); the M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore, where a limited number of walk up/no appointment necessary slots are available daily, excluding game days (sign up online or call 855-634-6829); Six Flags America in Bowie (pre-register online). Walk up/no appointment necessary lines are being expanded at mass vaccination sites (Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium, Greenbelt Metro, Baltimore Convention Center) and at sites in Western Maryland and on the Eastern Shore. A drive-through site is available at Ripken Stadium in Aberdeen. You can register for an appointment at the state COVID-19 website.
  • A federally backed online tool called VaccineFinder lets you search for vaccination sites by zip code, with links to appointments. 
  • Veterans Affairs facilities are vaccinating veterans, spouses and veteran caregivers. Those enrolled in the VA health care system get priority; additional appointments will go to others who are eligible based on their age, health problems and other factors that increase their COVID-19 risk. Sign up with VA to get updates on vaccine availability and to be notified when you can make an appointment.
  • Vaccine supplies remain limited in many areas. Most vaccine sites require you to schedule an appointment online or by phone. Appointments can be hard to get, as available time slots may be booked quickly, and you might be put on a waiting list. You can sign up at multiple sites to increase your chances of getting an appointment, but once you have confirmed a slot at one site, public health officials ask that you don’t schedule with any other provider so that those slots stay open for others.
Montgomery County administers 4,000 doses of the Moderna vaccine to healthcare workers and first responders, on December 30 in Silver Spring, MD.

AARP recommends that you ask your doctor about the safety, effectiveness, benefits and risks of the coronavirus vaccine. Older adults, especially those with underlying medical conditions, are at increased risk for hospitalization and death from COVID-19. 

What should I bring to my vaccination appointment? 

Some vaccination sites ask for proof of identity or eligibility. Officials recommend that you bring a driver’s license or other state-issued ID that shows your name, age and state residency, and your health insurance card, if you have one. You will not be charged, but the vaccine provider may bill your insurer a fee for administering the vaccine. 

If you are prioritized because of an underlying medical condition or based on your work, you may need a note from your doctor, a pay stub or badge, or some other form of proof. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says to wear a mask at your appointment.

How will residents of nursing homes and other long-term care facilities get vaccinated? 

Most residents and staff of long-term care facilities in Maryland are being vaccinated through a federal program that contracted with CVS and Walgreens to administer COVID-19 vaccines via free on-site clinics. Apart from a very small number of outstanding clinics, the program is complete. 

To ensure long-term care facilities still have access to COVID-19 vaccines — for new residents or staff, or for residents and staff who were initially hesitant to receive the shots — the federal government is continuing to allocate vaccines to pharmacies partnered with long-term care facilities. 

Which vaccines require a second shot?

The COVID-19 vaccines from Pfizer and Moderna require two doses. If you get one of these, you’ll need a follow-up dose to be effectively immunized. The recommended second-shot date is three weeks after a first dose of the Pfizer vaccine and four weeks for Moderna’s, but the CDC says an interval of up to six weeks is acceptable. You should get a card from your provider saying when and where to return for the second dose. The state says it will send reminders via text, emails and phone calls.   

Johnson & Johnson’s vaccine requires just one shot, though distribution of that vaccine has been paused.

It’s not yet known how long immunity from a coronavirus vaccine lasts and whether it needs to be administered on a regular basis like a flu shot. 

People can register with an online tool called Maryland MyIR to obtain their vaccination records and to register for reminder calls and messages. Reminders may come via text, email or phone.

Do I have to pay for the vaccination? 

You should not have any out-of-pocket cost for getting the vaccine. AARP fought to make sure the federal government is covering the cost of the vaccine. The federal government is buying the vaccine and getting it to providers for free. Providers can recoup a fee for administering the shot, but not from consumers. They would be reimbursed by the patient’s insurance company or the government (in the case of Medicare and Medicaid beneficiaries and the uninsured, for example).

There are already reports of scammers purporting to offer COVID vaccines and treatments and trying to charge for them. AARP’s Fraud Watch Network is tracking the latest scams.

What should I do with my vaccine card? 

You should get a small white card at your vaccination appointment with your name, birth date, name of the vaccine you received and the date it was administered. If you receive the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine, bring your card when you get your second shot.  

You may need your vaccine card for certain kinds of travel or other activities, so keep it in a safe place. You can take a photo of it with your smartphone for your own records. Experts say that posting a photo of your card to social media could make you vulnerable to identity theft. If you lose your card or did not receive one, contact your vaccine provider or your local health department to get a copy.

When will kids be able to get vaccinated? 

Pfizer’s vaccine is authorized for people 16 and older, while the Moderna vaccine is authorized for those 18 and older. Pfizer has asked federal officials to consider expanding eligibility for its vaccine to those as young as 12, and both companies are researching how their vaccines work in children as young as 6 months. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, has said he expects high school students will be able to get a vaccine by this fall and that “kids of any age” will likely be eligible by early next year. 

Should I still wear a mask after getting vaccinated?   

Yes. Experts are still learning about how vaccines affect the spread of COVID-19, so the CDC still recommends taking precautions while in public — including wearing masks, social distancing, and avoiding crowds and poorly ventilated spaces. Scientists are also studying the effectiveness of the vaccines against new, more contagious strains of the coronavirus. 

It takes two weeks to build immunity after the single-dose shot and the second dose of the two-dose shots. After that, fully vaccinated individuals can gather indoors with other fully vaccinated people without wearing a mask or staying 6 feet apart, the CDC says. They can also gather indoors with unvaccinated people from one other household without masks, unless any of them are at a high risk for severe COVID-19. 

This guide was initially published on Dec. 29 and updated on April 22 with the opening of a new drive-through vaccine site in Aberdeen.

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This story is provided by AARP Maryland. Visit the AARP Maryland page for more news, events, and programs affecting retirement, health care, and more.

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Find information about getting a COVID-19 vaccine in your state. CDC information is available at cdc.gov/coronavirus; additional AARP information and resources are at aarp.org/coronavirus. En español, visite aarp.org/elcoronavirus.

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