All Marylanders 16 and up can preregister for vaccine

ANNAPOLIS, Md. (AP) — All Maryland residents 16 and over can now preregister for an appointment to get the COVID-19 vaccine at mass vaccination sites as the state prepares to broaden eligibility as the vaccine supply increases, Gov. Larry Hogan said Thursday.

The governor also announced that the mass vaccination site in Salisbury, Maryland, will open a walk-up line on Friday with no appointment necessary for any eligible Maryland resident. The state plans to add more no-appointment lines at other state mass vaccination sites in the coming weeks.

While Hogan said the state was opening preregistration for people in Phase 3, it’s not yet open. The governor underscored that people who are currently eligible under Phase 1 and Phase 2 will continue to be prioritized for the inoculations. That includes people 60 and older, people with underlying medical conditions and various types of essential workers.

Nearly 300,000 Marylanders have already successfully preregistered, Hogan said.

People can preregister by visiting covidvax.maryland.gov or calling 1-855-634-6829. During preregistration, residents can choose their top two preferred sites and will be notified when they are eligible to receive the shot.

The governor said the state will continue to make decisions on vaccine eligibility on a daily basis. While state officials hear projections about coming doses in advance from the federal government, the state doesn’t really know how many doses will arrive until the day before they do.

For example, Hogan said state officials thought Maryland could receive 90,000 more doses this week, but it turned out to be more like a 30,000 net increase in doses compared to the week before.

“We don’t want to make decisions based on false numbers, and we also don’t know the exact uptick,” Hogan said. “We know how many people are in each category, but not how fast they’re going to get it.”

The governor said it’s unclear how the loss of nearly 15 million doses of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine after a mix-up at a Baltimore production plant would affect future distributions. He said the state only became aware of it on Wednesday and that the White House did not mention it during a call with state officials on Tuesday.

“We, at this point, don’t know the exact impact that it’s going to have, although we’ve been led to believe from our federal partners that it’s not going to directly impact our allocations — at least for the foreseeable future — and we’re hoping that that’s the case,” Hogan said.

Johnson & Johnson said Wednesday that a batch of vaccine made by Emergent at its Baltimore factory, known as Bayview, cannot be used because it did not meet quality standards. The company said in a statement it was still planning to deliver 100 million doses by the end of June and was “aiming to deliver those doses by the end of May.”

Hogan also said he has directed the Maryland Department of Health and the Maryland Department of Aging to work with local jurisdictions to develop plans that would allow all senior centers to safely reopen by the end of April, with public health protocols in place. Vaccination clinics will be held at senior centers ahead of reopenings.