County Enters Vaccination Phase 1B Monday for Those 75 and Older

Montgomery County officials are vaccinating residents and front line health care employees who work in the county as much as possible but could vaccinate more people against COVID-19 if they had additional doses, they said Jan. 25 during a news briefing.

On Monday, the county entered Phase 1B, which includes people who are at least 75 years of age. These seniors can register to be vaccinated and will receive a link back with with details. However, Montgomery County Health Officer Travis Gayles warned that there are 60,000 residents who are in this age group, and the county has not received nearly enough doses to cover them immediately.

“We simply do not have enough vaccines,” Gayles said during the briefing. “We receive a fraction of what we require.” He said he only received notification that the county will receive 5,400 vaccine doses for this week on Jan. 23 at 7:30 p.m.

Technically, everyone needs a vaccine right away,” Gayles said, adding that the county is utilizing 99.6% of the doses it receives weekly.

According to Council President Tom Hucker, the county continues to request more vaccines than it receives. This week, the county’s allotment is lower than in previous weeks, he said. There are lots of residents requesting vaccination appointments, Hucker said, adding, “The only thing we don’t have is enough vaccines.”

“It is a supply and demand program. It is simple math,” Hucker said.

Council Vice President Gabe Albornoz acknowledged that the state and other counties in Maryland also are receiving fewer vaccine dosages than needed. He said the council will be sending letters to both Hogan and the state legislators with their concerns.

Gayles explained that the county is committed to “fair, equitable access” to vaccines and not just “for those who have connections.”

The number of new cases has stabilized, and the test positivity rate has decreased, according to Gayles.

There were 400 new cases recorded Monday and the 14-day average of people testing positive is 6.6%. The percentage of hospital beds that are occupied is 77.3%, according to the county’s covid dashboard.

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Suzanne Pollak

About Suzanne Pollak

Suzanne is a freelance reporter with Montgomery Community Media. She has over 35 years professional experience writing for newspapers, magazines, non-profit newsletters and the web.

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