Talbot County’s first attempt to get a general population group signed up for COVID-19 vaccinations has had a few hiccups, but officials are working to improve the process.
On Monday, Maryland moved to Phase 1B in its vaccination plan, which allows residents 75 and older to be vaccinated.
Local health departments, including in Talbot County, are working to get that group signed up for vaccination clinics, with some information tied in to a state registration website over which local agencies have no control.
Talbot County’s first clinic for those 75 and up is set for Friday, Jan. 22, and the 150 slots available were filled within 12-20 minutes after about 200 people were emailed a registration link, health officials said.
“Our fix is to continue scheduling additional clinics that people can register in advance for, and to send out the signup link to a more targeted number of recipients,” Dr. Maria Maguire, the county’s acting health officer, said in a statement. “We also plan to keep pre-registrants informed with regular communications so they know the next steps they should do.
“As this was our first attempt to get a general population group signed up, a mistake was inadvertently made in that process,” Maguire said. “We were trying to get people signed up as soon as possible. Unfortunately, we continue to be extremely limited with our vaccine supply.”
As of 2013, Talbot County had more than 4,000 residents aged 75 and older. Population estimates in 2019 show the county has more than 11,000 residents who are 65 and up.
Maguire announced in a Jan. 14 press release that the health department was ready to move to Phase 1B following Gov. Larry Hogan’s announcement that he was accelerating Maryland’s COVID-19 vaccination plan.
In addition to residents 75 years of age and older, Phase 1B includes assisted living, group homes and other congregate care facilities, continuity of government officials, high risk incarcerated adults, and K-12 school staff.
Healthcare workers and first responders were in Phase 1A.
“We are only limited by the number of vaccinations supplied,” Maguire said Jan. 14. “We have the capacity to vaccinate everyone in Talbot County in a timely matter.”
Talbot County residents 75 years of age and older must pre-register for their COVID-19 vaccinations on the health department’s website at bit.ly/talbot-75. The health department will then respond to individuals to schedule vaccination clinic appointments.
The health department also is on the process of setting up a call center for residents to schedule vaccinations, with updates
announced through social media, on the TCHD and talbotcovid19.org webpages, and through public service announcements.
As of Tues., Jan. 12, the Talbot County Health Department had received 1,700 Moderna vaccinations and had administered 1,132 by Jan. 14. The health department requests vaccinations each week, and has been receiving on average 500 vaccinations per week.
In the email sent late Tuesday afternoon to residents who had pre-registered for a vaccination appointment, the health department noted: “Appointments are extremely limited so if no appointments are available when you try to sign up, please note we will be contacting you again when additional clinics are scheduled.”