ELKTON — Cecil County Health Department and Union Hospital/ChristianaCare receive about 1,000 COVID-19 vaccines weekly, and local pharmacies each receive anywhere from 100 to 200 in the same period, according to Lauren Levy, the county’s health officer.
“However this week, we’ve actually seen an uptick and we’re excited about that, especially with the Johnson & Johnson vaccine,” Levy said.
The Moderna and Pfizer vaccines, which each require two doses, are what is being administered currently. However the Food and Drug Administration gave Emergency Use Authorization to the J&J vaccine over the weekend. It’s different from the first two in that it requires only one vaccine and also provides greater protection from being hospitalized from complications.
In a Q&A with Cecil County Executive Danielle Hornberger, Levy said 51% of county residents 75 and older have received the vaccine, while 37% of Cecil County residents between 65 and 74 have been protected from the novel coronavirus.
All told, 13,000 residents have been vaccinated between clinics at the health department, the hospital, Walmart, Walgreens, CVS and West Cecil Health Center. There have also been clinics made available by appointment at other locations in western and southern Cecil County, Levy said Tuesday.
According to the US Census Bureau, in 2019 Cecil County had almost 103,000 residents.
While the Maryland Health Department reports a 12.6 percent vaccination rate in the county, Levy said it’s actually higher than that.
“It’s a bit of an under estimate,” Levy said, adding she is working to make the state numbers match what she has in her office.
Like Levy, Hornberger said she’s been lobbying to get more vaccines sent here.
“Over 90% of our allotment is into the arms of people,” Hornberger said. “We’re really at the mercy of the process.”
Levy has not heard anything definitive about a mass vaccination site closer to Cecil County. There are sites in Baltimore at the Convention Center and M&T Bank Stadium but nothing set for Harford or Cecil counties.
“In terms of mass vaccinations here, the Cecil County Health Department and Union Hospital have moved through hundreds of people,” Levy said.
Workers in Kentucky shipped out more than 4 million doses of the J&J vaccine Monday. It’s unknown how many of those will come to Maryland and then to Cecil County.
Look for there to be more places to get the vaccine as supplies get more plentiful.
“As the weather warms up and more vaccine becomes available, we will probably set up drive-thrus at the high schools,” Levy said.
Those who get the first shot are now being scheduled for the second dose. That typically occurs during the 15-minute monitoring wait after the shot is administered. Health care workers watch for adverse reactions.
However, getting that first vaccine means a wait of four to five weeks after registering. Levy said those eligible in Phase 1C – the current vaccine phase – need to go online to register. The web address to register is cecilcountyhealth.org/covid-19-updates. There, you find a form that will ask questions to determine if you are eligible.
Phase 1C is for residents 65 and older, plus workers in such essential needs as farmers, teachers, manufacturing, postal, continuity of government and other frontline employment.
However Levy noted that those who do not have emails are not getting connected as quickly to an appointment.
“Some have indicated they don’t want to be contacted by email,” Levy said. “So we have staff here and at Cecil County Public Libraries making calls.”
However, people are not answering the phone, she said. She urges people that don’t have email to find someone who does who can advocate for you.
“Ask someone to be your email contact for the schedule links,” Levy said. “But if you see a number come up on your phone from 410-996-___ it’s probably us.”
Those without internet access can call the Cecil County COVID hotline at 410-996-1005.