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Lawmakers question state’s move to shift vaccine doses to pharmacies

Maryland Daily Record


Maryland is shifting small amounts of coronavirus vaccine doses to private pharmacies as state health officials prepare for what they hope will be increased shipments later in the spring.

Acting Health Secretary Dennis Schrader said the decision was an effort to create a hybrid delivery system of private and government vaccination clinics. But the move to include a small number of private pharmacies including Walmart and Giant, mostly in western Maryland and the Eastern Shore, raised the ire of some lawmakers who say the decision is making it harder for people who have higher risks to get a shot.

“It’s not fair,” Sen. Addie Eckardt, an Eastern Shore Republican, said to Schrader during the first meeting of the Senate’s Vaccine Oversight Work Group.

Eckardt said shifting vaccine doses to private facilities is making it harder on local health departments.

“Our health department knows better where the people are in need than Walmart,” she said.

Additionally, Eckardt said, the public announcements about the program are drawing in people from other counties.

“You’ve created a problem,” she said. We now have more of a demand than we have a supply,” Eckardt told Schrader.

Schrader appeared Monday afternoon before the first meeting of the work group which was established last week to keep tabs on vaccination rollout efforts in Maryland.

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