April 30, 2021
Deidre McCabe, Director, Office of Communications, 410-767-3536
Charles Gischlar, Deputy Director, Media Relations, 410-767-6491
Maryland Department of Health expands Primary Care COVID-19 Vaccination Program, bringing more vaccine to local communities
Primary care physicians to play increasingly important role in reaching unvaccinated residents, especially vulnerable, hard-to-reach Marylanders
Baltimore, MD –The Maryland Department of Health (MDH) today announced major expansion of its Primary Care COVID-19 Vaccination Program in adding more than 70 practices over the past few weeks, bring the total active program participants to 221. As Maryland moves forward with its vaccination program, primary care physicians will play an increasingly important role in reaching unvaccinated residents.
The effort is spearheaded by MDH’s Maryland Primary Care Program (MDPCP), which includes more than 560 primary care practice locations and more than 2,150 health care professionals across the state. Combined, these practices serve more than 4 million Marylanders.
“Our Primary Care COVID-19 Vaccination Program is critical to ensuring that no Marylander is left behind when it comes to vaccinations,” said MDH Secretary Dennis R. Schrader. “Expanding it will enable us to provide more vaccines to family practices throughout the state and directly reach people who we know haven’t been vaccinated yet.”
As the COVID-19 vaccine supply continues to increase, the long-standing relationships that primary care practices have with their patients will prove critical to increasing vaccinations—especially for those whose underlying medical conditions increase the risk for severe COVID-19 illness. Primary care providers are uniquely positioned as care coordinators to examine complete medical records, reach out to their most vulnerable patients and invite them to be vaccinated in a place that is more familiar or comfortable.
Primary care practices that are located directly within communities can also help minimize transportation barriers for many patients. Many primary care practices call patients to schedule vaccine appointments, which also helps minimize technological, access and hesitancy barriers for patients.
About two-thirds of Maryland’s primary care providers have joined the ranks of the MDPCP. MDH established the MDPCP in 2019 as one of three programs under the innovative Maryland Health Model to support advanced primary care delivery, improve health outcomes and control total health care spending. All practices that participate in the MDPCP need to serve a certain number of Medicare participants. This includes older patients or Medicaid-Medicare “dual eligible” patients, who tend to be more vulnerable to serious illness through COVID.
Through the MDPCP, the number of primary care practices across Maryland receiving COVID-19 vaccine allocations for their patients continues to increase. Providers enrolled in the program receive 100 doses of vaccine per week to start and are able to increase or decrease allocations week-to-week based on their capacity and the state’s overall vaccine supply.
Each participating practice is encouraged to view their entire patient list via the Chesapeake Regional Information System for Our Patients (CRISP) to determine which of their patients have not been vaccinated. They can sort the list based on certain criteria—including age or number of underlying conditions—and reach out directly to schedule vaccination appointments.
“From pivoting to telehealth to provide care for patients, to keeping high-risk patients out of the hospital by making referrals for monoclonal antibody treatment, to now administering the vaccine, our primary care providers have been at the center of care throughout this pandemic,” said MDPCP Executive Director Dr. Howard Haft. “They are positioned to help directly connect with those who need the vaccine—especially Marylanders who may be harder to reach, with more complex heath care needs.”
The MDPCP also is working in collaboration with the Maryland Vaccine Equity Taskforce and the MDH Vaccine Taskforce to address gaps in vaccine access to vulnerable populations. To establish the program’s first 17 sites in mid-March, the group used a data-driven approach to identify primary care practices that serve Black and Hispanic patients and are easily accessible.
Participation will continue to expand to any practice enrolled in the MDPCP that is capable of administering the vaccine. Eventually, MDH hopes to expand the initiative to include non-MDPCP participant practices as well, paving the way to vaccinating patients through all primary care practitioners throughout the state.
To date, Maryland has administered 4,618,350 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine, more than 46,000 of which have been administered through the Maryland Primary Care COVID-19 Vaccination Program. The ongoing efforts have contributed to 1,983,961 Marylanders being fully vaccinated statewide.
Primary care providers who are enrolled in the MDPCP and interested in participating in the Maryland Primary Care COVID-19 Vaccination Program should contact their MDPCP practice coach. Providers who are not enrolled in the MDPCP may email email@example.com to learn more.
Marylanders are encouraged to contact their primary care provider in advance to confirm their supply of COVID-19 vaccine or to schedule a vaccination at a mass vaccination site at covidvax.maryland.gov.
For more information about the MDPCP, visit: https://health.maryland.gov/mdpcp/Pages/home.aspx.
For more information about COVID-19 vaccines in Maryland—including GoVAX campaign media, vaccine resources, fact sheets and FAQs—visit covidLINK.maryland.gov.
For the most recent Maryland COVID-19 vaccine data, visit coronavirus.maryland.gov.
The Maryland Department of Health is dedicated to protecting and improving the health and safety of all Marylanders through disease prevention, access to care, quality management and community engagement.
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