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COVID-19 in Maryland

State Health Dept. Hires Adviser to Focus on Vaccination of Underserved Prince George’s Residents

Prince George’s County Executive Angela D. Alsobrooks (D) cut two spots for the Maryland Department of Health, urging people to sign up for the COVID-19 vaccine.

The Maryland Department of Health has hired an adviser to support efforts in vaccinating vulnerable and underserved communities in Prince George’s County, a health department spokesman confirmed by email on Tuesday.

New hire Katina Rojas Nazario-Joy, will “provide advisory and operational support to our vaccination team,” said David McAllister, from the health department’s Office of Preparedness and Response.

The duties of her new position will include, connecting with “community leaders and county residents to promote and improve vaccine administration in Prince George’s County, as well as to provide communications support to the team,” according to McAllister.

The announcement comes after months of lagging county vaccination rates and state efforts to focus on vaccinating the county’s Black and Brown residents.

As of Tuesday, just over 19.6% of Prince Georgians are fully vaccinated, according to state health department data. For months, Prince George’s had the lowest percentage of vaccinated adults in the state but ceded the last place spot in Maryland to Somerset County on Monday. 

To help aid vaccination efforts, on April 7 the Federal Emergency Management Administration opened a mass vaccination clinic at the Greenbelt Metro station with a capacity to vaccinate up to 3,000 people per day. This is the first federally-operated site in the state and the second mass vaccination site located in the county.

Nazario-Joy’s current job title as listed on her LinkedIn profile is the “Prince George’s County COVID-19 Coordinator and Advisor to the Secretary of Health.”

For Nazario-Joy, Prince George’s is familiar territory. She previously worked for the county as a Latino liaison under County Executive Angela D. Alsobrooks (D) in the Stakeholder and Engagement Affairs Division, according to Gina Ford, a spokeswoman for Alsobrooks. Nazario-Joy held the position for just under two years, according to her LinkedIn profile.

Nazario-Joy has also worked for the U.S. Department of Commerce and for Novartis, a pharmaceuticals company.

In a statement, Alsobrooks congratulated Nazario-Joy on her new position. “I am certain she will bring her tremendous knowledge and passion to this position,” she said.

Ford said she was unaware of the dedicated adviser’s hiring and responsibilities.

Brenda Wintrode is a contributor to Maryland Matters. She can be reached at [email protected]