Reps. David Trone and Jamie Raskin, who represent Montgomery County in the U.S. House, joined their congressional colleagues from Northern Virginia and Washington, D.C., in calling on the federal government to vaccinate its workers through a process separate from state and local COVID-19 vaccine programs.
The lawmakers represent the National Capital Region — comprised of Montgomery and Prince George’s Counties in Maryland, Washington, D.C., and four counties in Virginia — which is “home to the largest concentration of federal employees,” they wrote in their Feb. 18 letter to the Office of Personnel Management and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
More than 281,000 federal employees work in the National Capital Region — 10% of which are considered essential, according to an Office of Personnel Management report. Yet local jurisdictions are largely responsible for their vaccinations. Only a few federal agencies have secured supplies of the vaccine for their own staffs.
The region wants to “allocate vaccines as fast as possible to all prioritized communities,” the House members wrote. “Rather than foisting federal employees onto Virginia, D.C., or Maryland’s supply of vaccines and increasing their essential worker vaccination responsibilities, the federal government should vaccinate federal employees through a separate federalized allocation to get them vaccinated as soon as possible.”
This call from members of Congress follows a Feb. 10 letter by Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan, D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser and Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam urging the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and Federal Emergency Management Agency that the federal government step in to vaccinate critical employees and other groups it’s prioritized for COVID-19 shots.
Hogan, Bowser and Northam said their jurisdictions “simply do not have the resources available to support these priority vaccinations, due to the additional burden on local resources that this mission would require — especially when considering the amount of vaccine each state receives.”
In Montgomery County, like other communities in the region, demand for vaccine appointments outpaces supply of the shots. While Maryland is currently in Phase 1C, the county is only accepting appointments up to Tier 1 of Priority Group 1B.
About 5% of county residents are fully vaccinated to date, according to state data.