COVAX Updates from the Baltimore City Health Department
Coronavirus Vaccine Update, July 15, 2021
CDC Statement regarding Guillain-Barré Syndrome (GBS) , released July 13, 2021. More information about GBS and vaccines can be found here.
"COVID-19 vaccine safety is a top priority for the federal government, and we take all reports of health problems following COVID-19 vaccination very seriously. CDC and FDA are monitoring reports of Guillain-Barré Syndrome (GBS) after receiving Johnson & Johnson’s Janssen (J&J/Janssen) COVID-19 Vaccine. GBS is a neurological disorder in which the body’s immune system damages nerve cells, causing muscle weakness or in the most severe cases paralysis. Each year in the United States, an estimated 3,000 to 6,000 people develop GBS; it is typically triggered by a respiratory or gastrointestinal infection. Most people fully recover from GBS.
Reports of GBS after receipt of the J&J/Janssen COVID-19 Vaccine in the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS) are rare but do likely indicate a small possible risk of this side effect following this vaccine. Around 100 preliminary reports of GBS have been detected in VAERS after 12.8 million doses of J&J/Janssen COVID-19 Vaccine administered. These cases have largely been reported about two weeks after vaccination and mostly in males, many aged 50 years and older. Available data do not show a similar pattern with mRNA vaccines (Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna), after over 321 million doses were administered in the United States. This issue will be discussed as part of an upcoming ACIP meeting.
In the United States, nearly all COVID-19 hospitalizations and deaths are now occurring in unvaccinated people. The risk of severe adverse events after COVID-19 vaccination remains rare. Everyone age 12 years and older is recommended to receive a COVID-19 vaccine. "
Coronavirus Vaccine Update, June 22, 2021
The Baltimore City Health Department is excited to partner with local organizations to bring vaccines directly to the community! If you or an organization you speak on behalf of would like to host a Covid-19 Vaccination event at your facility please fill out our BCHD Mobile Vaccine Clinic Interest Form!
Coronavirus Vaccine Update, May 19, 2021
On May 10th, the FDA provided emergency use authorization for the Pfizer vaccine for children 12 years of age and older. The Baltimore City Health Department and Baltimore City Public Schools are excited to be moving forward with vaccinating the pediatric population, another critical step in our vaccination efforts here in the City.
We understand that many parents may have questions about the Pfizer vaccine. First, the Pfizer vaccine for adolescents is made of the same ingredients as the Pfizer vaccine for adults and is absolutely free. The Pfizer vaccine was proven to provide 100% protection against COVID-19 disease for children between the ages of 12-15. To put this another way, of the adolescents who received the vaccine, there were 0 cases of COVID-19. Also, just like in adult populations, the Pfizer vaccine for adolescents requires 2 doses that are given 21 days apart.
You or your child may feel some side effects after receiving the vaccine! These are a sign that the vaccine is working, and your body is building up immunity to COVID-19. Common side effects for children included pain at the injection site, fever, fatigue, muscle and joint aches, usually lasting 48 hours after the vaccine. Adolescents may experience side effects after both doses, with more side effects noted after the second dose.
We are excited about this approval and pending approvals for vaccine use in children because vaccination in younger populations will help to slow COVID19 disease transmission among the greater population. While healthy young people are less likely to be hospitalized or suffer severe disease from COVID19, they are still at risk for hospitalizations, illness, and even death from COVID19. Additionally, children with underlying medical conditions, such as asthma, obesity, diabetes, sickle cell disease, genetic conditions, heart disease from birth, or suppressed immune systems may have an increased risk of severe illness from COVID-19. We have seen as vaccination rates increased among older adults there was a dramatic decrease in hospitalizations for this age group, and will likely see similar trends as we vaccinate younger populations.
The Baltimore City Health Department and City Schools will be working together to answer questions about the vaccine, beginning with sending out a parent/guardian survey about the acceptance of COVID-19 vaccination to better inform our pediatric vaccination outreach. In the months to come, some schools will also be holding vaccination clinics to make getting the vaccine easy for parents and their children 12 and older, as well as partnering to identify parent and guardian vaccine ambassadors, to help spread the message about the importance of adolescent vaccination with the Covid-19 vaccine.
With summer on the way, now is the time for Baltimore City youth to get the COVID-19 vaccine. The vaccine will protect our young people from COVID-19 as they take summer trips, enjoy time with friends and family, go to summer camp, and work summer jobs. As with our other vaccination efforts, we will be working with our partners to ensure equitable access to vaccines for our young people.
Now, young people, aged 12 years and up, along with their adult family members can sign up for Pfizer vaccination appointments at the University of Maryland Baltimore online at getthevaccinebaltimore.org or call 410-706-3000.
Young people are also able to get vaccinated at many state mass vaccination sites which offer the Pfizer vaccine and can make an appointment by calling 1-855-MDGOVAX (1-855-634-6829) from 7 am-10 pm, 7 days a week, or by visiting https://massvax.maryland.gov.
Coronavirus Vaccine Update, April 30th 2021
Statement on Johnson and Johnson COVID-19 vaccine usage in Baltimore City.
After a thorough evaluation, the CDC and FDA recommended resumed usage of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine on April 23, concluding that based on the evidence and review by independent clinicians and scientists, the benefits of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine far outweigh the risks.
The Johnson and Johnson vaccine was paused after 15 cases of severe blood clots, known as Thrombosis with Thrombocytopenia Syndrome (TTS) were discovered, out of the more than 8 million Johnson & Johnson doses administered in the United States. This extremely rare event is only linked to the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, no TTS cases have been reported after administration of the Moderna or Pfizer vaccine.
The TTS cases all occurred in women, the majority under 50 years old, and no link was found with pregnancy or oral contraceptive use. Due to the risk of this extremely rare, but serious event, women in this age range should give thought to the risk and benefits of receiving the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, and may choose to receive the Moderna or Pfizer vaccine instead. For women 50 years old and over and men of any age, the risk of TTS is close to zero and should not impact vaccine choice.
The Baltimore City Health Department will resume the use of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine starting May 3, 2021. Johnson & Johnson vaccine may be used to vaccinate hard-to-reach populations and individuals that prefer a single-dose vaccine. Baltimore City residents continue to have the choice to receive the Moderna or Pfizer vaccine at a location that administers these specific vaccines.
We recommend COVID-19 vaccine providers administering Johnson & Johnson vaccine, provide alternative vaccine options (either mRNA vaccine) for women 18 - 49 years old at the time of vaccine counseling. COVID-19 vaccine providers administering Johnson & Johnson should especially counsel women 18 - 49 years on the rare risk of TTS and signs and symptoms of TTS. The amended Johnson & Johnson EUA should be provided to all Johnson & Johnson vaccine recipients prior to administration. COVID-19 vaccine providers should report adverse events after vaccination to VAERS.
The COVID vaccinations are life-saving, safe, and effective. Baltimore City Health Department is committed to ensuring the safety and health of all Baltimore City residents. We encourage residents to speak with their healthcare professional or contact the health department at [email protected] if you have questions about vaccinations.
Coronavirus Vaccine Update, April 23rd, 2021
The Baltimore City Health Department is excited to announce an expansion of our Call Center to assist City residents in making COVID-19 vaccination appointments, as well as connecting residents to resources to help them get through the pandemic. Our call center specialists are ready to assist, please call (443) 984-8650 Monday through Friday from 8:30 AM-6:30 PM and Saturdays from 9:00 AM-1:00 PM. Assistance is available in most languages!
Coronavirus Vaccine Update April 21st, 2021
Great news Baltimore! The University of Maryland Baltimore has set up a direct COVID-19 vaccine appointment website at https://www.umaryland.edu/get-the-vaccine/! Appointments are available!
Coronavirus Vaccine Update April 13th, 2021
Statement of the Baltimore City Health Department's pause of using Johnson and Johnson Vaccine
This morning, the Centers for Disease Control and the Federal Drug Administration recommended a pause in the use of the Johnson and Johnson vaccine, to look into the possibility of blood clots forming in an extremely small number of younger patients. Accordingly, the Baltimore City Health Department is pausing the use of the Johnson and Johnson vaccine until we receive further information from our federal and state partners.
This pause will not significantly impact our local vaccination operations. The Baltimore City Health Department is utilizing the Moderna vaccine at our Baltimore City Community College vaccination clinic, as well as at our mobile vaccination clinics. We will continue to provide the Moderna vaccines to residents, as we await more details regarding the Johnson and Johnson vaccine. To date, the Baltimore City Health Department has received 1400 doses of the Johnson and Johnson vaccine, making up approximately 3% of our first dose vaccination supply.
While the number of individuals who have reported experiencing blood clots remains small, people who have received the Johnson and Johnson vaccine, who develop a severe headache, abdominal pain, leg pain, or shortness of breath within three weeks after vaccination should immediately contact their health care provider.
Coronavirus Vaccine Update April 12th, 2021
Vaccination Appointments are currently available!
Baltimore City is now in Phase 3. All Baltimore City residents 16 and older are eligible for COVID-19 vaccination and are encouraged to pre-register for their vaccine online at our new website, covax.baltimorecity.gov Older adults without internet access, or those with intellectual or developmental disabilities can also call the Maryland Access Point (MAP) hotline 410-396-CARE (2273) to record their interest in receiving a COVID-19 vaccine. All those who call or sign-up online will be contacted for scheduling their appointment.
Coronavirus Vaccine Update, April 5, 2021
Vaccination Appointments are currently available!
All Baltimore City residents aged 16 and older are encouraged to visit covax.baltimorecity.gov to pre-register for the COVID-19 vaccine. Once an appointment becomes available, we will contact you with the appointment details.
Older adults aged 60 and up, as well as those with intellectual and/or developmental disabilities, can fill out the form online, or call the Maryland Access Point Hotline at 410-396-2273 for assistance in filling out the form.
If you have previously filled out a vaccination interest form with the Baltimore City Health Department, you will not need to "re-register".
We are currently working on plans to develop a call-in number for Baltimore City residents without access to the internet, and will share those details as they become available! Please note that while eligibility is expanding, the Baltimore City Health Department is still following prioritization guidelines established by the Maryland Department of Health.
Coronavirus Vaccine Update, March 12th, 2021
People with intellectual/developmental disabilities (I/DD) are eligible for vaccines in Phase 1B and are invited to pre-register and fill out our I/DD vaccine interest form. If you have any questions, please contact the Baltimore City Health Department at [email protected] for further assistance.
Coronavirus Vaccine Update, March 9th, 2021
Coronavirus Vaccine Update #1, February 18th
After reviewing weather and temperature forecasts, at this time the Baltimore City Health Department can confirm that those with second dose COVID-19 vaccination appointments for Friday, February 19th can proceed to Baltimore City Community College as scheduled. Those with appointments will be receiving a confirmation email later this afternoon.
The Baltimore City Health Department is still evaluating the potential effects ice may have on our mobile COVID-19 testing operations tomorrow and will be making announcements later this afternoon regarding their status.
Coronavirus Vaccine Update, February 17th
Due to inclement weather concerns, and out of an abundance of caution for the safety of our staff and residents seeking services, the Baltimore City Health Department will be postponing all of its COVID-19 testing and vaccination operations on Thursday, February 18th, 2021. This includes mobile testing operations at the Zeta Center, vaccinations at our POD site at Baltimore City Community College, and several mobile vaccination clinics scheduled with partners.
We have also been made aware that all COVID-19 testing and vaccination operations at the Baltimore City Convention Center scheduled for February 18th will also be suspended, due to inclement weather concerns.
The Baltimore City Health Department will reschedule everyone with a 2/18 appointment to Saturday, February 20th. Those with second-dose appointments scheduled for Thursday will be receiving an email this afternoon detailing their rescheduled appointment time, as well as an opportunity to change your second dose appointment if Saturday does not work for your schedule.
Coronavirus Vaccine Update, February 11th
Beginning February 11th, operators of Baltimore City Independent Living Facilities can request a mobile COVID-19 vaccine clinic to arrive at your facility by filling out this form. If your facility meets the criteria for residents who fall within an eligible priority group, a member of the Health Department will reach out to you to schedule your clinic.
Coronavirus Vaccine Update, February 2nd
In order to ensure the maximum efficacy of the Moderna vaccine, people who received their first dose of vaccine in January must have their second dose administered 28 days after their first shot. This is to maximize the effectiveness of those first doses, based on the clinical guidance around the Moderna vaccine.
People who received their first shot at the Baltimore City Health Department’s mass vaccination pod site in January were given two options to register for their second dose appointment: 1) register on the spot, or 2) have the Health Department send a registration link for a date in February.
As we mentioned in our January 29th update, these February registration links in the State’s PrepMod system were never posted on the Health Department’s website. However, in reviewing appointment signups late last week, our team found that approximately 25% of all February appointment slots were filled by individuals looking for a first dose appointment.
As soon as we identified this issue, the Health Department took several steps to begin addressing it as best we could given the limitations of PrepMod, and to communicate out to those who’d made appointments that they would not be able to receive a first dose today:
- On 1/29/21, we emailed all of those who had signed up for an appointment slot that the site would be available only for second doses, and requested that those signing up for first doses cancel their appointments and look for other availability through the State’s site.
- On 1/29/21, we issued a public statement to amplify the issue.
- On 2/1/21, we emailed a reminder to everyone with appointments at the Health Department’s mass vaccination pod site are for second doses only. We will be sending this reminder every day to ensure constant communication out on this issue to people who’ve registered via PrepMod.
So there is no confusion moving forward: at this time, the Health Department’s vaccination pod site at Baltimore City Community College should be considered a “second dose” only appointment site until further notice. We will provide public notice when we have opened up our appointment slots again for first dose appointments. We would like to reiterate that while we acknowledge the high demand for vaccines in Baltimore, second dose appointments must be prioritized during the earliest days of the vaccine rollout, and during times of vaccine scarcity, in order to ensure the effectiveness of the vaccination. We ask Baltimore residents to please not forward these links to others when making a second dose appointment.
For those who are looking for appointments, we have a vaccination interest form for older adults on our website at coronavirus.baltimorecity.gov/covax. Those older adults without access to the internet can also call the Maryland Access Point hotline at 410-396-2273.
Additionally, the Baltimore City Health Department is not the only vaccinator operating in Baltimore. Local area hospitals and medical providers listed on coronavirus.maryland.gov, under Find a Vaccine, have created interest forms for vaccinations when they become available, and residents in eligible Priority Groups are encouraged to visit those websites and sign up. As of February 1, some Baltimore-area Giant, Safeway, and Rite Aid locations have begun posting appointment links on the same website.
First dose appointment links sent to you via friends, social media, WhatsApp, and or any form not directly from the Baltimore City Health Department will not be honored at our Baltimore City Community College site. We have instructed all those with first dose appointments to please cancel their appointment, and visit the state website, coronavirus.maryland.gov, to sign up with an area provider. We know that vaccine demand is high right now, and with time, and with our partners, we will vaccinate our communities rapidly and equitably. We are continuing to work with the Maryland Department of Health to address challenges and bottlenecks found in the State’s PrepMod system.
Please continue to wear a face-covering when outside of your home, follow social distancing guidance, avoid large gatherings, and wash your hands frequently to prevent transmission of COVID-19.For more details about Baltimore City’s response to COVID-19, visit coronavirus.baltimorecity.gov.
Coronavirus Vaccine Update February 1st
Per the Maryland Department of Health, beginning February 1st individuals who are currently hospitalized AND diagnosed with the following criteria are eligible to receive the vaccine in Phase 1C:
- Cancer patients who are currently in active treatment
- End-stage renal disease patients requiring hemodialysis
- Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD)
- Solid organ transplant recipients
- Sickle cell disease patients
- Diabetic patients (Type 1 and Type 2)
Coronavirus Vaccine Update January 29th
As mentioned in our January 25th update, the Baltimore City Health Department must prioritize the second dose vaccinations of those first responders, health care workers, and other members of Priority Group 1A and 1B that we vaccinated at our pod site in January. Those that have already received their first vaccination dose must receive their second dose for the vaccine to be as effective as possible.
Today, our COVID-19 vaccination team noticed hundreds of overbooked first dose appointments at our Baltimore City Community College mass vaccination site next week. Some Baltimore residents will now receive an email canceling their first dose appointment, with instructions to sign up with an area health care provider through coronavirus.maryland.gov. If they are over 65 years old, they will also have the opportunity to call our Maryland Access Point call center (410-396-2273) or fill in our interest form here.
We are working to confirm that this situation will not occur moving forward, and are working to identify potential issues in the PrepMod scheduling system, as well as the potential that links to second dose appointments, were shared via email or social media. To be clear, second dose vaccination appointment links are solely for the use of the recipient and are not meant to be shared with others.
As Mayor Brandon M. Scott noted, Baltimore City has a thorough and dedicated plan for vaccine distribution, and we continue to work every day to grow our capacity to vaccinate Baltimoreans efficiently and equitably. We are actively working through our plan, which includes mass vaccinations, mobile vaccinations, and providing second doses to those who have received the first round.
Coronavirus Vaccine Update January 25th
Today, following the direction of the State of Maryland, Baltimore City moves to vaccinate members of Priority Group 1C. The latest 1C guidance from the Maryland Department of Health now lists; all adults over the age of 65, food and agricultural workers, U.S. Postal Service workers, Grocery/Convenience store workers, public and private transit workers, manufacturing workers, veterinarians, and their support staff, members of clergy and others deemed essential support for houses of worship, in addition to everyone in Priority Groups 1A and 1B, as now being now eligible for vaccinations.
Please note, the latest guidance from the Maryland Department of Health now requires local health departments to prioritize older adults aged 65 and up for vaccination appointment slots, as they become available.
With the State moving through the first three vaccination phases so quickly, we have seen the outpouring of demand for the COVID-19 vaccine outpace not only our expectations, but also the expectations of our local area hospitals, health care providers, and those of jurisdictions across the state. Inboxes set up by Health Department’s record interest in the vaccine are flooded with emails from thousands of residents, ours included. Appointments slots, once made available, are taken within hours. While eligibility has been broadened, vaccine availability has remained the same, creating a bottleneck, and frustrating residents.
We are committed to transparency related to the COVID-19 vaccine, and so we need to have an honest talk about what will be happening over the next few weeks of vaccination roll out here at the Baltimore City Health Department.
Right now, we have to prioritize the "second dose" vaccinations of those first responders, health care workers, and other members of Priority Group 1A and 1B that made and had their first appointments in January. If you've already received your first vaccination dose, you must receive your second dose for the vaccine to be as effective as possible. As such, we do not expect to have much more in the way of appointments for the next few weeks at our POD location.
Knowing that many of our older adults may have challenges making appointments online, the Maryland Access Point hotline 410-396-CARE (2273) is now trained and equipped to assist, and we now have a phone number for older adults over the age of 65 in Priority Groups 1A-1C to record their interest in receiving a vaccine. Those eligible older adults with access to the internet can also sign up at coronavirus.baltimorecity.gov/covax and will be contacted when an appointment becomes available.
Additionally, local area hospitals listed on coronavirus.maryland.gov, under "Find a Vaccine", have created interest forms for vaccinations when they become available, and residents in eligible Priority Groups are encouraged to visit those websites and sign up. Please do not call the hospitals looking for vaccine appointments, instead, use the online systems they have created.
At this time, there remain no new appointment slots with the Baltimore City Health Department. As frustrating as these announcements may be for some residents, know that your local Health Department is working daily to address these concerns, as we have been since the pandemic began over a year ago. The next few weeks will bring good news to the City, and help is on the way. We ask for grace, and patience, as we work through a historic pandemic, and these historically challenging times.
In the meantime, please continue to follow all social distancing guidance, including wearing your face covering whenever in public spaces, avoiding large gatherings, and washing your hands frequently. Summaries of recent phase changes in Baltimore City can be found on the City’s coronavirus website, coronavirus.baltimorecity.gov .
-The Baltimore City Health Department.
Coronavirus Vaccine Update 1 of 2, January 20th
Beginning Jan 20th, Baltimore City older adults in Priority Groups 1A and 1B without access to the internet can call the Maryland Access Point at 410-396-CARE (2273) for assistance in registering for the COVID-19 vaccine, as they become available.
Older adults aged 65+ with internet access should fill out our vaccine interest form by clicking here! Our MAP Ambassadors will call you back once an appointment becomes available!
Coronavirus Vaccine Update 2 of 2, January 20th
The Maryland Department of Health's COVID-19 website has begun listing Baltimore City healthcare providers administering vaccinations to for both Priority Group 1A and 1B members! Qualifying residents can sign up to request vaccination appointments directly with area healthcare providers when they become available! Visit coronavirus.maryland.gov, click “Find a Vaccine” and use the online search tool to find nearby health providers vaccinating residents.
Please note, completing these interest forms does not create an appointment. Due to high demand, your provider will reach out to confirm your appointment, once one is available. Any questions about the sign-up process should be addressed to individual health care providers via their website. At this time, the Baltimore City Health Department's appointments are still booked through January, and we continue to develop alternative methods to sign up for vaccination that do not require the use of the internet, with details to be shared soon!
-The Baltimore City Health Department