The impact of Covid-19 on our state and our legal community has been devastating. As we enter the second year of the pandemic, MSBA has been closely following the Covid-19 vaccine priority and rollout in Maryland and has engaged in multiple efforts to support the profession’s access to the vaccine. The MSBA believes that all attorneys should be prioritized for vaccinations in order to perform their vital role in the delivery of justice to Marylanders, rather than bifurcating the rollout to our profession. Our actions to date are outlined below.
MSBA President Mark Scurti notes: “The MSBA recognizes that all Maryland citizens need to be vaccinated as soon as possible and we commend Governor Hogan for his efforts to deliver the rollout thus far. In order to ensure that justice continues to be served in Maryland courts, all Maryland attorneys should be vaccinated as is occurring with judges, state’s attorneys, and public defenders. More than ever, reeling from the effects of Covid-19 on so many Maryland residents and businesses, we need to ensure those on the front line of delivering justice are vaccinated.”
CDC Guidelines and Maryland Priority Groups
On December 22, 2020, the CDC provided recommendations to federal, state, and local governments that included lawyers under Phase 1C within the group of “other essential workers” for vaccine priority. While the majority of states are following CDC guidelines and including all attorneys in group 1C, Maryland deviates and only includes specific types of attorneys in the priority groups. Maryland includes attorney groups working in congregate settings or in industries with a high rate of transmission, specifically judges, prosecutors, public defenders, and elected government officials, in priority status. We recognize those 65 and older will also capture a portion of our attorney population.
The MSBA is grateful that these attorneys, judges, and officials have received the vaccine so that they can continue with the critical work that is needed at this time. The MSBA believes that all attorneys should be prioritized for vaccinations in order to perform their vital role in the delivery of justice to Marylanders, rather than bifurcating the rollout to our profession. At the same time, the MSBA also recognizes the limited supply of vaccines in Maryland and the complicated task of arranging vaccinations based on priority groups.
MSBA Meets with Maryland Health Officials
This past Sunday, the MSBA’s Executive Director met virtually with representatives from the Maryland Department of Health to advocate on behalf of our legal community. The MSBA requested clarification about the current rate of the vaccine supply and learned that Maryland has vaccinated just under 300,000 residents within the last month. Health officials reported that Maryland currently has over one million residents in existing priority groups 1A and 1B (not including those in Group 1C) still awaiting the vaccine. The MSBA sought assurance that when the vaccine supply increases in our state, Maryland would come into full alignment with CDC recommendations. MSBA will continue to connect with Health Department officials and keep our profession informed on the rate of vaccinations and our request for the prioritization of all attorneys rather than a subset of our population.
MSBA Connects with the Judiciary
President Scurti has reached out to the Judiciary leadership on behalf of our legal community to highlight the need for prioritizing the entire profession’s access to the vaccine. While many court proceedings are able to be conducted virtually, many members are still reporting to courthouses for proceedings that must be held in person and should be prioritized for the vaccine.
MSBA Reaches Out to Legislators
The MSBA has been in contact with Delegates and Senators and a letter from lawyer legislators is being drafted for wide distribution. The MSBA hopes to secure broad bipartisan support of the letter before it is presented to key Maryland leaders.
Maryland Delegate, and current MSBA Secretary Erek Barron concurred, stating that “prioritizing the vaccination of all attorneys is critical given our important function to serve the public. I am eager to work with our leadership to bring Maryland’s plan in line with the CDC’s recommendations.” Former Maryland Senator Bobby Zirkin also expressed his support of MSBA’s attorney vaccination efforts: “It’s the right thing to do, to acknowledge the essential nature of our work as attorneys all over the state, to ensure that we can safely continue to serve Maryland citizens”
The MSBA has been in contact with all surrounding states and D.C. and based on our initial review, it appears CDC guidelines are being more closely adhered to for the attorneys within those jurisdictions. We will continue to monitor developments in our adjacent legal communities.
Ongoing Efforts & Continued Monitoring
The MSBA will continue to advocate on behalf of all Maryland attorneys on this important issue of vaccine priority. As the only statewide organization representing all attorneys in all practice areas and segments of the profession, the MSBA is uniquely positioned to fight for the tens of thousands of attorneys that help in the delivery of justice, and enable Maryland businesses and beyond to thrive. As with our successful fight against taxation of legal services during the last legislative session, ensuring the vaccination of Maryland attorneys occurs in alignment with national guidance is a unifying effort. Nearly 100 attorneys registered for our Lobby Day event that took place this morning and was free to members, as we continue to fight for the profession.
We All Want a Healthy and Prosperous Maryland
The MSBA is grateful to all those who have been vaccinated and for all of the state’s efforts to date to protect our population, especially given the limited number of vaccines. We’ll continue our efforts and will provide updates to you as we learn more.
Should having the voices of our profession be heard directly become necessary, we will initiate efforts that will enable members to click and send a custom message to legislators and the Governor’s office.
It’s our hope all residents of Maryland can be vaccinated as soon as possible so that we can turn the corner on this near year-long pandemic.
Any questions or comments, reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org.