A COVID-19 vaccination clinic that is set to open next week will be a particular benefit to residents of the Washington, D.C., region who prefer or need to use mass transit, officials said on Wednesday.
The clinic, located at the Greenbelt Metro station, will open on April 7, the White House and Hogan administration announced.
It will have the capability to administer 3,000 shots per day, officials said.
“It’s convenient. It definitely increases access, which is wonderful,” said Prince George’s County Councilmember Jolene Ivey (D). “And anything that brings in more vaccine into our community is a good thing.”
House Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer (D-Md.) and Rep. Anthony G. Brown (D-Md.) asked the Biden administration in February to open a federal vaccination clinic in Prince George’s County, to boost equity outreach.
The Greenbelt site will be jointly operated by the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the state. When it opens, the agency will have 30 “Community Vaccination Clinics” across the country, the White House said in a statement.
The Prince George’s clinic is the first FEMA clinic in Maryland.
“I want to make sure that those populations that have been negatively impacted by the pandemic are helped as part of this,” said Greenbelt Mayor Colin Byrd. “I’m grateful for the Biden administration’s partnership.”
FEMA also provides personnel and infrastructure for the state’s mass vaccination site in Waldorf.
The Greenbelt Metro station site is located close to the Capital Beltway and the Baltimore-Washington Parkway.
It was chosen in part because the county’s population is 88% non-White and 27% of residents speak a language other than English. One in nine residents under 65 lacks health insurance.
The county’s vaccination rate as of Wednesday, 20.6%, is second to last in the state. Six counties, including neighboring Montgomery and Howard, have vaccination rates above 30%.
“The state’s commitment to vaccine equity for vulnerable and underserved people has remained steadfast, and we are excited about having this new center available to Marylanders,” said Acting Maryland Health Secretary Dennis R. Schrader in a statement.
“Our goal is to make a vaccine available to every Marylander who wants one, and this gives us one more way to reach people.”
In a joint statement, Hoyer and Brown and U.S. Sens. Chris Van Hollen (D) and Benjamin L. Cardin (D) praised the decision to open a site in Prince George’s.
“This federal site will improve vaccination rates among Black Marylanders and the Latino community, which have had the lowest vaccination rates across our state,” the lawmakers said.
“It is clear that we must meet vulnerable communities where they are, and this site will also ensure Marylanders are able to access vaccine appointments through public transit options like WMATA (the DC region’s bus and subway agency).”
Marylanders interested in receiving a vaccination should visit covidlink.maryland.gov or call 1-855-634-6829.
Ivey, a former state delegate, said she continues to have concerns about the sign-up process.
“It’s the Hunger Games,” she said. “I look forward to the day — and I do believe it’s going to come — where you can just show up as a walk-in.”