As Maryland health officials cheered a 43 percent drop in new Covid-19 cases last week, they also worry that fewer people are turning out to get vaccinated – a step necessary for the country and the state to achieve herd immunity.
“I worry that people are getting complacent,” said Dr. Kathryn Fiddler, Vice President of Population Health at TidalHealth Peninsula Regional, who oversees the mass vaccination site at the Wicomico Youth & Civic Center.
Fiddler and other health officials continue to stress the importance of the vaccines, which are the only way to end the pandemic and return to normal.
They urge “First Vax, then Relax” for anyone planning to head to the beach this summer, to visit with friends or attend family and social gatherings.
There has been a decrease in appointments and walk-ins at the Civic Center, she said. The site offers the Pfizer vaccine, which is the only one approved so far for 16- and 17-year-olds.
The staff at the Civic Center also has reported some people are failing to show up for their second appointment. Fiddler said she suspects some of them may have gone elsewhere for their second dose, while others may have had conflicts with their work schedule, lack of transportation or family matters that prevented them from coming in.
The Civic Center site is open seven days a week from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Walk-ins are welcome, but residents also can pre-register at covidvax.maryland.gov or by calling 1-855-MD-GOVAX (1-855-634-6829). Teens younger than 18 must be accompanied by a parent or guardian who must sign a consent form.
The Wicomico County Health Department also is continuing vaccination clinics at the former Tuesday Morning location at the Centre at Salisbury. To get an appointment, send an email to Wicomico.COVIDvax@maryland.gov and include your age or what phase you fall in and how you qualify for that phase.
The Health Department will email you a link to make an appointment. The Health Department uses the Moderna vaccine which is for those 18 years and older only.
The demand for vaccinations – especially for younger people -- is likely to increase now that the University System of Maryland is requiring all students and staff to be vaccinated before the start of the fall semester. Locally, that includes Salisbury University and the University of Maryland Eastern Shore.
And for anyone hoping to travel overseas, the European Union recently announced that fully vaccinated Americans will be allowed to visit EU countries starting this summer.
Overall, Maryland’s Covid-19 metrics are among the best in the country, Gov. Larry Hogan said.
In addition to the 43 percent drop in new cases, Maryland also has the lowest transmission rate in the country, and is the only state in the confirmed ‘decreasing’ category for the rate of spread (0.86 percent).
Last week, for the first time since March 13, the state is reporting a daily positivity rate under 3 percent and for the first time since March 27, the state is reporting a 7-day positivity rate under 5 percent. The state’s seven-day positivity rate has declined by 48.5 percent from its 2021 peak.
Covid-19 hospitalizations in Maryland have declined for four straight days and are down 40 percent from their 2021 peak.
As of Tuesday, Wicomico County has had 7,409 confirmed cases of Covid-19 with 152 deaths. Health officials also reported that 34,186 county residents have received the first dose of either the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine, 26,983 have gotten a second dose and 2,404 got a Johnson & Johnson single-dose vaccine.
The patient count in Somerset is now 2,533 with 37 deaths. First doses of vaccine have gone to 6,574 residents, 4,836 have gotten second doses and 558 got single doses.
Additional cases have also been confirmed in Worcester County, which now reports 3,541 people as having the virus and 96 deaths. So far 23,180 people have gotten their first shots, 18,266 had a second dose and 1,627 got a single dose.
Dorchester County counts 2,685 cases, 49 deaths, 10,616 first doses of vaccine, 8,022 second shots and 1,623 single doses. There are 2,256 reported cases in Caroline County with 24 deaths, 9,990 first vaccinations, 7,943 second doses and 2,181 single doses.
Statewide in Maryland, 444,491 cases have been confirmed, with 8,501 confirmed deaths and 187 probable deaths. The current hospitalization totals of people with the virus stands at 1,130, down by 152 from a week ago. The number of people in intensive care is 269, down by 41 from last week.
As of Tuesday, the state has administered more than 3.9 million doses of vaccine, with more than 1.6 million people now fully vaccinated.
Across Maryland, more than 3.3 million people have tested negative for the virus.
Nationally, there are now more than 32.1 million cases with 572,702 deaths. Roughly 87.8 million people in the U.S. are fully vaccinated.