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Baltimore Begins Preparations for 3rd Dose Clinics, Health Chief Says

Baltimore Health Commissioner Dr. Letitia Dzirasa said on Thursday that the city is making preparations to open clinics where residents can receive a third dose of COVID-19 vaccines.

The move comes in the wake of an announcement by President Biden on Wednesday to begin offering COVID-19 booster shots starting on Sept. 20, with the scheduling to be based on when a person was fully vaccinated.

The new round of shots will be made available to people who received one of the two-dose vaccines at least eight months ago.

Speaking to reporters, Dzirasa said the CDC recommendation is subject to an independent evaluation by the Food and Drug Administration that a third dose would be safe and effective.

“Boosters will be rolled out first to individuals who were prioritized for vaccination at the earliest phase of the city’s vaccine campaign,” she said. “This includes health care workers, first responders and individuals working in public safety, among others.”

Dzirasa said the heath department is planning both a “semi-permanent location” for booster doses along with enhanced vaccination clinics in neighborhoods where rates are low.

The CDC said that the 13 million Americans who received the one-dose shot from Johnson & Johnson may also need boosters, but an announcement on that is likely a few weeks away.

Mayor Brandon M. Scott (D) said 65% of adults in Baltimore have had at least one shot.

Although he said that vaccines represent “the difference between life and death,” he shot down a report that the city is preparing to offer incentives to city workers who get vaccinated.

“The individual that said that we were planning to do that spoke out of turn,” Scott said, appearing irritated. “That will be dealt with accordingly.”

His comment appeared aimed at remarks offered by testimony from Chief Digital Officer Todd Carter earlier this week.

During a briefing for the City Council’s Health, Environment, and Technology Committee, Carter said “Baltimore plans to incentivize vaccinations and track progress of city employees who are vaccinated, who voluntarily submit that vaccination status to us,” WYPR-FM reported.

Scott said he is “exploring” a vaccine mandate for city employees, but no decision has been made.

The city is seeing 74 new COVID cases a day, on average, an increase of 471% from four weeks ago, Drizasa said. The biggest increases are occurring among adults aged 20-29 and children under 10.

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Baltimore Begins Preparations for 3rd Dose Clinics, Health Chief Says