The Baltimore City Public School System and Johns Hopkins Medicine today announced a new collaboration to provide the COVID-19 vaccine to city teachers and support personnel, starting this week.
JHM will provide and administer 500 doses per week in support of city schools' plans to increase in-person learning this semester. In coordination with the Baltimore City Health Department, priority will be given to staff who have already been working in-person, including meal service workers, teachers, custodians, and administrative personnel.
City Schools CEO Dr. Sonja Santelises said Johns Hopkins University President Ronald J. Daniels first raised the idea with her in a call two weeks ago, and that the school system, Johns Hopkins Medicine, Baltimore Mayor Brandon Scott's office, and the health department have been working feverishly since Thursday—when Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan announced expanded eligibility for the vaccine to include educators—to launch the effort as soon as possible.
"This collaboration is just an example of Baltimore City at its best," Santelises said. "It's a living example of how leadership in this moment matters."
More than 100 educators signed up for vaccinations within the first half-hour of the system going live, Santelises said, adding that the program will provide comfort to teachers and other personnel who want to bring children back to the classroom safely.
"We know how important it is to the long-term health and well-being of our city and our neighbors to see the safe and successful reopening of city schools," Daniels said. "I am glad Johns Hopkins can fulfill its mission to support the city and its citizens—especially our youngest—through this urgent and important partnership."
Added Kevin W. Sowers, president of the Johns Hopkins Health System and executive vice president of Johns Hopkins Medicine: "At Johns Hopkins Medicine, our mission is to do everything we can to help Baltimore get back to business, and that includes the very important work of educating our youngest community members. That mission starts with vaccinating our teachers and those who support them, and we are honored to collaborate with the Baltimore City Health Department and the Baltimore City Public Schools to help speed up that process."
About 5,000 city schools teachers and staff working at in-person learning sites are eligible for vaccination in the first phase of the program, and another 4,000 to 5,000 will still be left to vaccinate after that. Dr. Gabe Kelen, professor and chair of the Department of Emergency Medicine and director of the Johns Hopkins Office of Critical Event Preparedness and Response, who has been one of the leaders in JHM's vaccination program, said Hopkins will advocate for the state to allocate more vaccine doses to this collaboration.
"If we can get more vaccine, we are happy to ramp this up significantly," Kelen said.