Baltimore City Health Department is offering free COVID-19 vaccines to uninsured residents and those whose health insurance does not cover the cost.
City leaders announced Friday that Baltimore has received its first supply of the new COVID-19 vaccine from the federal government and will offer free shots during walk-in hours at the health department’s immunization clinic on 1200 E. Fayette St. between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. Adults who are unable to travel can schedule an in-home appointment through the city’s homebound vaccination program by calling 443-984-8650.
The department does not yet have vaccines for children but plans to distribute them as soon as they become available. In the meantime, local pharmacies may stock COVID-19 vaccines for children.
The city’s inoculation initiative comes at a time when federal regulators are recommending the latest COVID-19 vaccine for everyone 6 months and older — even as doses appear hard to come by. Officials warn that the immunity associated with the original vaccines has waned over time. The department warns unvaccinated people are twice as likely to develop “long COVID,” in which symptoms can last for months or years.
“COVID infections and hospitalizations are on the rise, making it imperative that Baltimore residents get the new vaccine,” said acting health commissioner Mary Beth Haller in a news release Friday. “That is because the new COVID vaccine is the only vaccine developed to protect from the current, dominant strain that has proven more transmissible.”
Haller said the vaccine may have changed, but the city’s strategy to prioritize residents vulnerable to severe infection, such as seniors, the immunocompromised and those from underserved communities, has not.
The department is continuing to host COVID-19 vaccination clinics at local schools, churches, senior centers, and community-based nonprofits to ensure as many residents as possible are protected, the release states.
City health leaders are also encouraging residents to seek out COVID-19 tests ahead of the holiday season. A box of two tests typically runs about $20. However, free test kits are being offered at various sites across the city, including local libraries. The federal government is also offering to send four free COVID-19 rapid tests to every U.S. household.