The biggest obstacle that Prince George's County faces in the COVID-19 fight is not the lack of residents’ desire to be vaccinated; it’s a significant lack of actual vaccine supply, according to the county executive.
The Prince George County Health Department can administer more than 2,000 vaccines per day, but due to a lack of vaccinations, the county is averaging only 1,564 vaccines over the past 10 days, according to the Prince George’s Office of Health.
Angela D. Alsobrooks, the County Executive of Prince George’s county, in a virtual press conference on March 4, said with help from health department clinics, Prince George is prepared for an increase in COVID-19 vaccinations from the state to provide residents with their first dosage. According to the Prince George’s health department, the county is only receiving 4,400 first-dose vaccines a week, a number that Alsobrooks says needs to be increased.
“Right now, vaccine supply is the biggest limiting factor in being able to quickly vaccinate Prince Georgians. We want to have our supply increased. We now have the capacity and the infrastructure in place to administer the vaccine, and we need to see the supply increase specifically at the Six Flags site,” Alsobrooks said.
Prince George’s County, according to the Maryland Department of Health COVID dashboard, has been the most affected county by COVID-19, with 74,571 cases in the state of Maryland. The Six Flags America in Upper Marlboro, has been a vaccination clinic administered by the state of Maryland for all residents, not just the Prince George’s area. However, only 11% of Prince Georgians were able to receive the vaccination at the park, according to Alsobrooks.
“I’d like to see 50 percent of the vaccine that is administered in our county go to Prince George's county residents. We want to make sure the equity is there, and that the same people who are here have the equal opportunity to get the vaccine and to be safe,” Alsobrooks said.
In addition to Six Flags America, Alsobrooks advocated for the help of the University of Maryland to help administer vaccinations for communities affected by higher infection rates.
“I would also like to see the site at the University of Maryland College Park assist us because we have zip codes in dire need of getting the vaccine. Specifically in Latino communities, some of the greatest infection rates have happened there,” Alsobrooks explained.
There are a total of four testing clinics administering vaccinations in Prince George’s, including the Health Department’s Cheverly Health Center, Wayne K. Curry Sports & Learning Center, Southern Regional Technology and Recreation Complex, and the Laurel Beltsville Senior Activity Center.
The Sports & Learning vaccination clinic will close from March 13-28 and reopen on March 29, due to scheduled maintenance. To maintain vaccination capacity, the health department will open two new sites at the Kentland Community Center on March 8 and the Cedar Heights Community Center on March 15. Alsobrooks says she is hopeful that the county can continue to operate the two new sites once the Sports & Learning Center reopens for vaccinations.
In addition to the in-person clinics, the Prince George’s Health Department has also utilized three mobile units in an attempt to vaccinate senior citizens who are unable to leave their homes. Dr. George L. Askew, Prince George’s Deputy Chief Administrative Officer for Health, Human Services, and Education, says his office is committed to getting vaccinations to those in dire need by any means necessary.
“We think that [the mobile clinics] is an important commitment to make to take the vaccine to the people who can’t come to the vaccine. It is so inspiring, especially to see our seniors line up with such enthusiasm to get vaccinated and show the world just how important this is,” Dr. Askew said.
According to Dr. Askew, the infection rate of COVID-19 in Prince George’s county has decreased to 4.4%, a decline from the 7% mark just a month ago. He says that although lower infection rates are encouraging, the county still needs to continue the progress it has made.
“While we’re seeing declines in our numbers, we’re still in a tough battle. Stay strong and safe, and get vaccinated. When your time comes, step up and be proud to be protected,” Askew said.
At this time, according to the Maryland Department of Health COVID dashboard, 94,791 Prince Georgians have been vaccinated with the first dosage of the COVID-19 vaccine, only 10.4% of the Prince Georgian population. Only 43,322 county residents, 4.7% of the county, have received the second dosage of the vaccine according to the Maryland Department of Health COVID dashboard.
Residents of Prince George County who are eligible to receive a COVID-19 vaccination through the Prince George’s County Health Department in Phase 1 can pre-register by filling out the pre-registration form. Prince Gerogians can stay informed with the progress the county is making with the distribution of vaccines at The COVID-19 Data Dashboard, and can follow updates in regards to the vaccine at mypgc.us/COVIDVaccine.