With vaccination for COVID-19 underway locally, the Baltimore City Health Department is providing information and infographics about the distribution plan through a central website.
“The site gives all of the current information that we have,” said Mike Fried, chief information officer of the Baltimore City Health Department. “It allows folks to sign up for updates if they’re medical providers…We’re trying to really make it a central source for all of the information” on the vaccine and distribution plans, he said.
The website offers a look at the phases for distribution.
Priority groups such as healthcare workers, first responders and residents and staff at long-term care facilities are currently eligible to receive vaccines. Priority group 1A also now includes residents of Baltimore that are licensed, registered, and certified health care providers, and those who work in a health care setting, as well as long with residents and staff of long-term care facilities. Healthcare workers who are not based in a hospital in this group can currently visit this site to sign up and receive the vaccine.
Priority group 1B is defined as people who are significantly high risk for severe COVID-19 illness. That’s the elderly over the age of 75 years old, those experiencing homelessness or living in a shelter and people who work in an industry or live in an area with a high rate of contracting COVID-19. Frontline essential workers like teachers, grocery store worker and public transit workers are also in this group.
Priority group 1C is defined as high risk populations such as adults between 65 and 74 and those younger than 64 with a high risk medical condition like cancer, sickle cell or diabetes. Along with those younger individuals that are in a high risk environment for contracting COVID-19.
Those that aren’t in or working with a high risk group shouldn’t except to receive the COVID-19 vaccine until phase 3.
When it comes to the timeline for the future, “It’s hard for us to give specific detail around exactly what day or what month, because a lot of it is based on vaccine adoption, as well as supply,” said Fried.
The site also includes frequently asked questions about the vaccines. Distribution of vaccines made by Pfizer and Moderna began in December, following the release of study data that showed safety and effectiveness of the vaccines and approval by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. The arrival of vaccines holds out hope for ending the pandemic, though hurdles remain.
Local governments have a role to play in vaccine distribution, and the site shows that one of those is getting information to residents.
Donte Kirby is a 2020-2022 corps member for Report for America, an initiative of The Groundtruth Project that pairs young journalists with local newsrooms. This position is supported by the Robert W. Deutsch Foundation.