‘To Every Corner of Every Community’: Hogan Launches Vaccine Confidence Campaign

On Wednesday, Gov. Hogan visited a Giant Pharmacy in District Heights that is administering the COVID-19 vaccine. He was joined by PG County Executive Angela Alsobrooks. Taken 1/27/2021. Via the Office of the Governor’s Flickr.

Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan has launched GoVAX: Maryland’s COVID-19 vaccine confidence campaign.

Hogan called the effort an “aggressive, grassroots public outreach campaign” to encourage vaccine confidence and urge residents to get vaccinated when it’s their turn and doses are available.

“Over the next several months, we will be taking this campaign to every corner of every community. To TV, radio, billboards, social media, Zoom,” he said at a press conference Friday morning at Oriole Park at Camden Yards in Baltimore. “Whatever it takes to promote the safety and efficacy of these COVID-19 vaccines and to make sure that Marylanders know that getting vaccinated is the best way to keep you, your family and your community healthy and safe and to save the lives of thousands of Marylanders.”

Hogan said one particular area of focus will be “tackling the initial vaccine hesitancy that we see in minority populations and underserved communities, which have been disproportionately affected by this pandemic.” He said GoVAX ambassadors will include medical experts, academic leaders, educators, faith based and non-profit leaders, business leaders, first responders and community advocates.

The governor was joined by several ambassadors Thursday, including Del. Joseline Peña-Melnyk (D-MD. 21), who represents Prince George’s and Anne Arundel counties. She said vaccination is personally important to her.

“Like many of you, I have lost people that I love [to COVID-19], like my father, like my cousin who used to call me every week to say ‘How are you? I said a prayer for you,’” Peña-Melnyk said. She also lost two friends to the virus and urged residents to get vaccinated.

“So, please get it. Do it for you, do it for your family, do it for your friends. Please, so that we can build enough community immunity so that we can again hug our loved ones, give them a kiss, feel that warmth,” she said. Peña-Melnyk emphasized that the COVID-19 vaccine is free, and made it clear that citizenship status does not matter.

“And for the Latino community, whether you’re documented or undocumented, we are not going to ask you for any proof of citizenship. That is not needed, you don’t need identification. You just need to prove where you live. You don’t have to pay for it. The information won’t be shared, so please trust it,” she said.

Bishop Walter Thomas, Pastor at New Psalmist Baptist Church in Baltimore, said taking the vaccine is the only valid option for him in response to the pandemic.

“I thought, what are my options? I can take the vaccine, I can get the virus, I can get sick, I can die, I can spend the rest of my life in my house. Given those options, there was only one worth taking. And that was the vaccine,” Thomas said. He said COVID-19 silenced the things that mean so much to Marylanders, like festivals and fairs, block parties and backyard barbecues, and time with friends and family.

“But now, through the vaccine, we have an opportunity to do those things that matter so much to us, and we can open our eyes and see this possibility,” Thomas said.

University of Maryland, Baltimore County (UMBC) President Freeman Hrabowski said he participated in Moderna’s Phase 3 clinical trials with his wife last fall. He ended up among the volunteers who received the actual vaccine and not the placebo.

“We are doing this, not just for ourselves. We’re doing it for everybody around us. We’re doing it for our children, but especially— what we know about this vaccine— we’re doing it for our mamas and daddies and our grandmothers. And so it’s not just about me, it’s about all of us,” Hrabowski said.

“And that is the message in taking this vaccine: you do it to make us better.”

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