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Mobile vaccine tour announced as Maryland vaccination rates decline

‘Today is the day that so many of us have been waiting for and working toward,’ says Gov. Larry Hogan, shown earlier this year.  (The Daily Record/Bryan Sears)

Gov. Larry Hogan, shown in April, is launching a series of mobile vaccination sites designed to boost the state’s vaccination rate, which has slowed in recent weeks. (The Daily Record/File Photo)

The state of Maryland has announced a new initiative — the third in as many weeks — to encourage COVID-19 vaccinations. The “GoVAX Summer Tour” of mobile vaccination clinics will launch this week at five locations, including sites in Ocean City and near Deep Creek Lake, two popular summer vacation destinations.

“It is easier than ever to find and to receive a vaccine in Maryland,” said Gov. Larry Hogan in the announcement. “Now, through our GoVAX Summer Tour, we are making it easier yet by bringing vaccines to where people are.”

The tour will stop at “cultural and community events, bars and breweries, and popular destinations across the state,” according to the announcement.

Its first site will be Baltimore’s Union Craft Brewing, where vaccines will be distributed from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. on Thursday. Four more mobile vaccine clinics are slated for Friday, May 28:

  • Seacrets, a popular nightclub on 49th Street in Ocean City, will host a clinic from noon to 2 p.m.
  • Evolution Craft Brewing in Salisbury will host a clinic from noon to 6 p.m.
  • The Ocean City Convention Center will host a clinic from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily, starting on Friday and continuing through June 6
  • The Garrett County Fairgrounds, near Deep Creek Lake, will host a clinic from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily, starting on Friday and continuing through June 2

These clinics do not require appointments and the vaccines are free.

In addition, three of the sites are offering incentives to those who get a vaccine; anyone vaccinated at Seacrets will receive a voucher that can be used towards food, beverages or merchandise, anyone vaccinated at Union Craft Brewing will get a token that can be exchanged for food or beverages, and anyone over the age of 21 who is vaccinated at Evolution Craft Brewing can get a free drink.

More locations will be announced in the coming days, according to the announcement.

The campaign follows last week’s news of a lottery in which every Marylander who had received the COVID-19 vaccine in-state was entered into a drawing to win one of forty $40,000 prizes, or the grand prize of $400,000, to be awarded on the Fourth of July. The first two winners have been selected.

The week prior, the governor’s office had announced a partnership with Ledo Pizza to give a free, small, cheese pizza to anyone vaccinated in May or June, up to 10,000 pies statewide.

So far, 46.5% percent of Marylanders are fully vaccinated. It’s a higher percentage than the United States in general, which has vaccinated just under 40% of its adults, but lags behind several states in New England, like Vermont, Connecticut, Massachusetts and Maine, all of which have fully vaccinated over half of their populations.

Currently, the state’s most vaccinated counties are suburban Howard and Montgomery counties, having vaccinated about 54% and about 51% of their populations, respectively. Montgomery is Maryland’s most populous county.

Smaller rural counties lag behind. Somerset County, the state’s second smallest jurisdiction with a population of only about 26,000, has fully vaccinated just under 30% of its population. Garrett County and Wicomico County, the locations of the Deep Creek and Salisbury mobile vaccination clinics, respectively, have both fully vaccinated less than 35% of their populations.

Statewide, uptake has somewhat slowed down recently. On April 10, Hogan announced that the state had set a record of 94,773 vaccines distributed in one day. In recent weeks, however, the 7-day average for vaccine distribution has hovered in the high 40,000s and low 50,000s, declining to 41,336 as of Monday, according to the state’s COVID-19 dashboard.

“I encourage all those who are still on the fence and haven’t yet gotten their shot to go out and get vaccinated right away, and look forward to seeing many of you at Seacrets this Friday,” Hogan said in the GoVAX Summer Tour announcement.

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