ELLICOTT CITY, MD – Howard County Executive Calvin Ball hosted a telephone town hall last night with local officials to address questions and concerns about the recently approved children’s vaccine, booster shots, and mental health access. 

Throughout this pandemic, we’ve worked hand in hand with our partners to ensure our residents are well informed and have access to health care. Our efforts have led to one of the highest vaccination rates in Maryland – with 96% of residents 12 and older receiving at least their first dose and approximately 6,572 5–11-year-olds already have their first shot. In addition to our vaccination efforts, we’ve recognized the increasing need for more mental health access and services for our community.

Calvin Ball
Howard County Executive

The approximately 1,500 attendees were also surveyed on thoughts towards the vaccine, the current state of the pandemic, and mental health. The results noted: 

  • 68% of those polled have already or plan to get their children vaccinated, 32% do not plan to get their children vaccinated. 
  • 20% are more concerned about COVID-19 this winter compared to last year, while 33% are concerned the same amount, and 47% are less concerned.  
  • 35% of those surveyed feel mental health resources are readily available, 48% find resources available but difficult to access, and 18% feel resources are not available.   

“It is so important for our constituents to be informed about COVID-19 vaccine and our overall efforts of ensuring the health and wellbeing of Marylanders," said Maryland State Senator Clarence Lam, M.D. "The opportunity to hear directly from residents on this issue is vital as we roll out the children's vaccine, booster shots, and are facing another winter with this pandemic.” 

As we enter another holiday season continuing to navigate the COVID-19 pandemic, we have learned new things about ourselves and our resilience. The public health system continues to respond to the needs of the community in ways it always has, but in new ways as well. We have developed key partnerships in an effort to reach those who have not used our services. We have made extensive use of data and communications to better inform our work and our communities. We look forward to moving beyond the current public health crisis and using what we have learned to serve Howard County even more effectively.

Dr. Maura Rossman
Health Officer, Howard County Health Department

"Since the start of the pandemic, schools have been at the forefront of the conversation on health and well-being," said HCPSS Superintendent Michael J. Martirano Ed.D. "To keep these spaces healthy and safe, we have layered several mitigation strategies including mandatory vaccination or testing for staff, universal masking, HEPA filters in all classrooms, increased outdoor seating for lunch, limitations on visitors to the school building, extensive PPE, and other strategies. I am very encouraged by the high proportion in our county of youth ages 12-17 who have already been vaccinated, and the growing numbers of children ages 5 to 11 who are now receiving the vaccine." 
“The past year and a half have certainly challenged all of us in health and wellness, with the pandemic impacting everything from access to regular doctors’ appointments, to stress on our caregivers working on the frontlines of healthcare right now,” said Howard County General Hospital President Dr. Shafeeq Ahmed. “We’re seeing steady but lower volume of COVID-19 patients and are managing well, but are cautious about a possible winter surge, similar to last year as people spend more time indoors. I hope that everyone will refocus on their overall health and wellbeing as we move into the next phase of the pandemic.” 
“We know wellbeing matters critically during this time,” Department of Community Resources and Services Director Jacqueline Scott. “It is important if you are our youngest residents or older adults, we are working with our partners and within our community to fill the gaps and understand what is needed.” 
“The pandemic has shed a bright light on the need for comprehensive mental health services.  While conditions are improving, many of our community members are still at risk for isolation, which can lead to depression and suicidal ideation,” said NAMI Howard County Executive Director Denise Giuliano. “Please don't forget to check in with friends, neighbors, and caregivers who may be struggling. NAMI Howard County offers online support groups and education classes for individuals and families affected by mental illness in our community. The programs are free and are led by trained volunteers who experience similar challenges. For more information, visit: namihowardcounty.org.” 

Health Department
COVID-19 / Coronavirus
County Executive Calvin Ball
Town Hall
Health and Wellness

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