This article was originally published in The Sting on March 31, 2021.
The University of Baltimore’s History Club hosted a discussion with students Tuesday evening about how and why people should get the Covid-19 vaccine.
The event coincided with expansion of vaccine eligibility. Starting Tuesday, individuals 16 years and older with preexisting conditions became eligible to receive the vaccine as Maryland moved to phase 2B of its vaccine rollout.
Aside from the folks in phase 2B, frontline workers, anyone working in education or health care, individuals with intellectual or developmental disabilities, government employees, grocery store employees, and anyone over 60 were previously eligible for vaccination.
The discussion featured comments from four students who have already been vaccinated, who noted how they were able to make an appointment and why they chose to get the shot.
“I do grocery delivery part time and I was part of phase 1C. I went on to the UMMS coronavirus website and filled out the pre registration form” said Ted Bundi. Although appointments didn’t initially populate, after refreshing the page a few times Bundi was able to schedule a time.
For Derek Chavis, who works as a substitute teacher, getting the vaccine was a matter of safety.
“I knew at some point we were going back into the building. For me it was never a question. There was a very interesting realization that set in because [eligibility] didn’t include substitutes” said Chavis. “I’m not going back in that building until I know I’m safe”
All of the students noted some sort of issue with being able to find an appointment. In most cases, appointments were only found through someone in the students’ network. Dr. Joshua Davis, director of the history program who spearheaded the event, gave similar advice.
Starting April 13, vaccine eligibility will expand to phase 2C, which includes all Marylanders over age 55 and essential workers in critical industries. Starting April 27, all Marylanders over age 16 will be able to get vaccinated.
Dr. Davis shared myriad options for people who are interested in getting the vaccine. Maryland OneStop allows users to pre-register for an appointment at one of Maryland’s mass vaccination sites online or by calling 1-855-MD-GOVAX.
Appointments can also be made at local pharmacies, including chains like Walgreens, CVS and RiteAid both online and over the phone.
However, there are specific times and days that tend to work better than others for making appointments, according to the crowdsourced Facebook group Maryland Vaccine Hunters. The group has a spreadsheet that provides detailed information on the best practices for making appointments.
Through the Facebook group, those having extended issues making appointments can also get help from people who may be more tech savvy. Overall though, it’s a matter of patience.
Although the three vaccines available have all been proven safe, misinformation has made some people hesitant to get the shot. Events like the History Club’s are aiming to dispel some of that.
The CDC says, “All COVID-19 vaccines currently available in the United States have been shown to be highly effective at preventing COVID-19”
Tony Sheaffer is editor-in-chief for The Sting.