BALTIMORE (WJZ) — The Baltimore Convention Center Field Hospital is launching a pilot program to vaccinate the city’s most vulnerable populations.
The public-private partnership between Maryland Department of Health, University of Maryland Medical System (UMMS) and Johns Hopkins Medicine (JHM) is designed to improve equitable allocation of the COVID-19 vaccinate.
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“This innovative program gives us another powerful tool to reach vulnerable communities with safe and effective vaccines,” said Acting MDH Secretary Dennis Schrader. “This is an all-hands-on-deck undertaking, and I want to thank our partners for their commitment to ensuring equitable access to vaccines.”
Since the Convention Center opened as the state’s first mass vaccination site, the team has been focused on developing proactive approaches to expanding vaccine access to communities where its most needed. Using an algorithm, BCCFH has ensured 40% of recipients eligible for vaccinations were city residents.
“This pilot is a demonstration of the commitment to get the equity equation right – the State, our local partners and the community finding the answer together,” said Brigadier General Janeen Birckhead of the Maryland National Guard and head of the State’s Equity Task Force. “It’s one more step in the right direction to ensure equitable distribution of the vaccine. We must do all we can to make the vaccine available in our most vulnerable communities.”
Convention Center health care providers will phase this approach over to the M&T Bank Stadium’s mass vaccination site as well with these four steps:
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Appointment prioritization by Baltimore City ZIP codes that represent underserved populations
Aggressive community engagement to reach at-risk populations
Continued refinement of technology tools to reach specific populations
In collaboration with partners, increase public efforts to enhance vaccine acceptance
“This approach will build on the success we have already seen at the BCCFH. Since we began operations, we have been looking for methods to more effectively serve all communities in Baltimore,” said Mohan Suntha, MD, MBA, President and CEO of UMMS. “With a second mass vaccination site now open in Baltimore City at M&T Bank Stadium, it is the perfect opportunity to redouble those efforts and engage with local communities.”
The sites will hire additional staff and expand teams to help concentrate efforts in six priority zip codes in the city. Teams will also work to help residents with transportation to and from their vaccination appointments.
“We are making progress in reaching the most vulnerable members of our community, but there is more that we can accomplish,” said Kevin W. Sowers, MSN, RN, FAAN, President of Johns Hopkins Health System. “We also strive to provide the information needed for all members of our community to make science-based decisions when it comes to getting vaccinated.”
Staff will help individuals sign-up on-line or over the phone for vaccination, working with leaders and individuals who have been excluded from vaccination due to lack of internet access. Finally, continuous monitoring of these efforts, making adjustments as needed, will ensure equal access to the COVID-19 vaccine for all Baltimore City residents. Individuals in vulnerable communities without digital access and in need of assistance registering for a vaccine appointment at BCCFH can call (443) 462-5511 from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday to schedule an appointment. This line will connect individuals with someone who can assist with entering their information.
Patients can register for an appointment at the BCCFH vaccination site online at www.umms.org/BCCvaccine. To find other vaccine sites near you, visit covidlink.maryland.gov for more information on Maryland’s response to COVID-19. Vaccine and other coronavirus data are available at coronavirus.maryland.gov.
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For the latest information on coronavirus go to the Maryland Health Department’s website or call 211. You can find all of WJZ’s coverage on coronavirus in Maryland here.