In response to the need for large-scale community COVID-19 vaccinations, the Howard County Health Department is working with Howard County government, partner agencies, volunteers and students to expand its vaccination workforce. Ongoing staff recruitment, hiring and training efforts will ensure the county can meet capacity needs as significant vaccination efforts begin.
The department estimates there are up to 15,000 health care workers and first responders included in Phase 1A. It is estimated that there are more than 18,000 adults ages 75 and older living in Howard County. In total, it is estimated that more than 95,000 people included in Phases 1A, 1B and 1C in Howard County will be eligible to receive vaccination in the coming weeks. In total there are more than 250,000 Howard County residents age 16 and older who are eligible to receive the vaccine.
The FDA has authorized the Pfizer vaccine for adults 16 and older, and the Moderna vaccine for adults 18 or older. In order to supply this large population safely and efficiently with the COVID-19 vaccine, the department will be expanding days of the week, hours of operation and locations across the county where vaccinations will be provided. Other efforts have also been necessary to increase staffing for these new vaccination responsibilities. They include:
- Ongoing interviews to hire more than 35 additional Health Department staff. These new hires will fill the critical roles of nurse vaccinators, logistics and supply staff, administrative and other support positions.
- Assistance from Howard County Public School System (HCPSS) nurses. As of mid-December, more than 45 HCPSS school health nurses have expressed an interest to volunteer. Training for these staff will begin Jan. 22.
- Working with Howard County Government leadership to deploy employees to help support current staffing needs.
- Coordinating with more than 110 Howard County residents who have registered in the Medical Reserve Corps (MRC) to assist in the COVID-19 vaccination effort, serving in clinical and non-clinical roles.
- Utilizing academic partners from the Howard Community College Nursing and Emergency Medical Services programs and from the University of Maryland School of Pharmacy.
As Howard County begins to prioritize residents age 75 and older in vaccination Phase 1B on Jan. 25, plans to expand to additional facilities around the county and increase vaccination capacity are ongoing.
At its maximum capacity, the department estimates it can provide more than 18,000 vaccinations per week if able to operate three large, concurrent clinics five or six days a week. In order to fully staff three concurrent clinics at locations throughout the County, between 100 and 140 staff would be required each day for clinics ranging from eight to 11 hours. The department has also developed a robust training program to quickly integrate this new and diverse workforce into these clinical and non-clinical roles.