COVID-19 Vaccine

Updated January 19, 2021

Vaccine Update Presentation (PDF), DHHS, 1/13/2021

See Maryland COVID-19 Vaccine Dashboard.

With Gov. Hogan’s announcement last week that Maryland would move to Priority Group 1B (includes people age 75 and older) on January 18, 2021, there has been confusion and frustration about how the process works.  Here is how the process works for Montgomery County residents:

  • We will schedule clinics when we have vaccine on-hand; however, each week we are only given 2 to 3 days’ notice about the amount and the delivery date of the doses for that week, and we cannot schedule clinics until we know that information.
  • On a weekly basis, we receive an average of 7,500 doses.
    • To date, we have received 19,700 doses of vaccine (and there are about 750,000 people eligible for these doses).
    • We have used 92% of the vaccine to reach those in the first priority group (1A), which includes frontline health care workers NOT affiliated with a hospital and public safety staff.
    • We are coordinating with local hospitals to explore distributing any additional vaccine they have available.

You must preregister before being able to make an appointment.

If you are a Montgomery County resident age 75 or older AND not in a nursing home or assisted living facility:

  • Preregister for an appointment (disponible en español)
  • As we get more vaccine from the Maryland Department of Health, we will contact you to schedule your appointment.
    • We will send you an email or text message, depending on the contact information you provided in your preregistration.
    • We will also post information on this webpage.

FAQs

I am over the age of 65. Am I eligible for the vaccine now?

Priority Group 1B is for residents age 75 or older. Adults age 65 to 74 are in Priority Group 1C. We will provide more preregistration options as additional Priority Groups are added.

How do I register for a vaccine dose?

See preregistration details above. We will open a call center for phone registration later this week. We will post the phone number to this webpage.

I understand that the County currently does not have any vaccine. Can I still preregister?

Yes, you may preregister. We will schedule appointments as we receive vaccine doses from the Maryland Department of Health.

Will I have to wait until people in Priority Group 1A receive their vaccination before I can make an appointment?

We will continue to vaccinate Priority Groups in Phase 1A at the same time as we begin to vaccinate Priority Groups in Phase 1B. Our appointments depend on vaccine deliveries from the Maryland Department of Health.

Can I get my vaccine at a local pharmacy?

Four Giant Food pharmacies will have vaccine available beginning January 25, 2021. These locations are in Bethesda, Burtonsville, Gaithersburg (Kentlands), and Silver Spring. See the Maryland COVID-19 Vaccine website for updates as they become available. We will also update this page as we know more.

Who is currently receiving vaccines?

Montgomery County is in Phase 1A for vaccine distribution.

  • Priority Group 1A, Tier 1
  • Priority Group 1A, Tier 2
  • Priority Group 1A, Tier 3
  • Now taking preregistrations for Priority Group 1B, Tier 1 (Age 75 or over)
Healthcare providers ONLY - Request an appointment

Next steps

DHHS will process appointment requests from healthcare providers in the county who have not been provided vaccinations through local hospitals as we receive vaccine deliveries from the Maryland Department of Health.

We will send you:

  • an email or text message link for making your appointment, and
  • a list of available clinic locations and times.

Who is administering vaccines

  • County staff are vaccinating frontline health care workers and first responders (those who come into contact with ill and injured residents)
  • The State is providing vaccines to hospitals, who are administering vaccine to their staffs
  • A federal contract through CVS and Walgreens is providing vaccine directly to nursing home staff and residents.
Take the COVID-19 Community Survey COVID-19 Vaccine Priority Groups - We are in Phase 1A and 1B Sign up for email/text vaccine updates

Volunteer to help vaccinate

COVID-19 Media - share our graphics and flyers

Phase Priority groups
Phase 1 See Phase 1 Priority Group details | PDF

Priority Group 1A
  • Frontline health care workers
  • Staff and residents of nursing homes
  • First responders
Priority Group 1B
  • Adults age 75 or older
  • Frontline essential workers
Priority Group 1C
  • Adults age 65 or older
  • Those with specific medical conditions
Phase 2 People in critical infrastructure roles
Phase 3 General population

Additional resources


as of afternoon, 1/19/2021

Doses Received 19,700
Doses Administered 18,198
% Administered 92%

When will the next priority groups be vaccinated?

Progress through the priority groups depends entirely on how much vaccine we receive from the Maryland Department of Health and when we receive it.

We estimate that there are an estimated 30,000 to 40,000 individuals in the first priority group (1A). We will not wait until everyone in that group is vaccinated before moving to the next group but we are aiming to get maximum uptake of vaccinations by each group.  Herd immunity is accomplished when at least 80% of those eligible to be vaccinated are given shots (both doses).

Vaccinations are by appointment only. We will provide a link to the appointment system when we move to the next priority groups.

We are following both CDC and Maryland Department of Health guidance.

Priority Group 1C includes individuals with underlying medical conditions which increase the risk of serious, life-threatening complications from COVID-19. We expect additional guidance from the CDC on which underlying medical conditions will be included.

Vaccines will not be widely available until later in 2021. Eventually everyone who wants a vaccine will be able to receive one.  It is expected that private doctors and some retailers will eventually be able to order vaccine directly and assist in vaccinating community residents but there is no current timeline as to when that will happen.

How will you be notified when you are eligible?

We will announce which groups are eligible through

We will also use electronic newsletters (such as the County Executive’s weekly newsletter and Councilmembers' newsletters).

How to make a vaccine appointment (not currently available for the majority of the population)

When you are notified that you are eligible to receive a vaccination, you will be given

  • an online link for making your appointment, and
  • a list of available clinic locations and times.

If you do not have internet access, we will give you a phone number to call and make an appointment.

When it is time for your second dose, we will send you a reminder and appointment information.

Vaccine locations

We are currently using County clinic locations.

We are working to secure locations in various parts of the county, including recreation centers.

When you are notified that you are eligible to receive a vaccination, you will be given

  • an online link for making your appointment, and
  • a list of available clinic locations and times.

Depending on how much vaccine is available, private physicians may soon be able to request vaccine to provide to their patients. Pharmacies will also be able to request their own vaccine supply.

How does the vaccine work?

The COVID-19 vaccines we will receive are mRNA vaccines. Unlike many vaccines that put a weakened or inactivated germ into our bodies to trigger an immune response, mRNA vaccines teach our cells how to make a protein or a piece of a protein that triggers an immune response. When the vaccine triggers that immune response, our bodies produce antibodies which then protect us from getting infected if we are exposed to the real virus.

For most COVID-19 vaccines, two doses of the vaccine will be required. An online service called PrepMod will be used to schedule appointments and send reminders to people when their second vaccination doses are due.

Additional resources

Should everyone get a COVID-19 vaccination?

Yes. COVID-19 varies widely in how it affects those infected, from mild headaches to severe disease and even death. Getting vaccinated will protect you, and will also help protect people around you who may be more vulnerable to severe illness from COVID-19. Although getting COVID-19 may offer some natural immunity, we don’t yet know how long that protection will last.

The County Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) is prepared to respond to anaphylaxis/severe allergic reactions after the COVID-19 vaccination and is pre-screening individuals to determine if there are any contraindications or precautions.

When will children get the vaccine?

No currently-available vaccines are approved for persons under age 16. Clinical trials are in progress for this age group.

Who decides priority distribution of the vaccine?

The CDC will make decisions about fair allocation and distribution of the vaccine, with input from the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) and The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. Although state and local jurisdictions will have an important role to play in implementing the distribution plan, they do not have control over who is in each of the designated priority groups.

The County is currently planning vaccination clinics to guarantee fair distribution of the vaccine.

Additional resources:

How much will the COVID-19 vaccine cost?

There will be no cost for the COVID-19 vaccine at County-sponsored clinics. Medicare, Medicaid and most private insurance will cover the cost of the vaccine. Montgomery County will cover the cost for anyone who is uninsured.

More information on vaccination options provided through the County and other partners will be shared broadly when we enter the next phases of distribution.

Can I get COVID-19 from the vaccine?

The COVID-19 vaccines cannot infect you with COVID-19 disease. The vaccines that have been approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for use are mRNA vaccines, which do not use the live virus that causes COVID-19.

The COVID-19 mRNA vaccines give instructions for our cells to make a harmless piece of what is called the “spike protein.” The spike protein is found on the surface of the virus that causes COVID-19. Our immune systems recognize that the protein doesn’t belong there and begin building an immune response and making antibodies, like what would happen in a natural infection against COVID-19.

How do we know the COVID-19 vaccine is safe?

The COVID-19 vaccines are being held to the same rigorous safety and effectiveness standards as all other types of vaccines in the United States. Because of the pandemic, testing and production of the vaccine have happened simultaneously, but none of the safety steps were skipped.

Vaccines are only approved if they pass the rigorous testing and efficacy standards set by the FDA. The only COVID-19 vaccines the FDA will make available for use in the United States (by approval or emergency use authorization) are those that meet these standards.

Additional resources

Will the vaccine end the pandemic?

News about the development of a vaccine that is safe and effective at preventing COVID-19 is a major breakthrough in battling the pandemic. However, the vaccine alone won’t end the pandemic immediately.

Because production and distribution of the vaccine will take time, we will continue living with COVID-19 well into 2021.

Reasonable safety precautions like wearing a mask, physical distancing, vigilant hand washing, and minimizing large gatherings will still be essential as we wait for widespread vaccination to become available.

Where can I learn more about Maryland’s COVID-19 Vaccination Plan?

For detailed answers to questions about Maryland’s COVID-19 Vaccination Plan, see the COVIDLink website’s Frequently Asked Questions.

Sources