Hogan Touts Vaccine Booster Rollout

Gov. Lawrence J. Hogan Jr. (R) at a reception during the Maryland Association of Counties summer conference. Photo by Danielle E. Gaines.

By Alex Argiris

Gov. Lawrence J. Hogan Jr. (R) touted his administration’s rollout of the COVID-19 booster vaccine at a State House news conference Thursday afternoon.

Hogan also expressed frustration with the Biden administration for what he called “limited, confusing and contradictory” guidance from the federal government regarding eligibility for booster shots.

Hogan urged every eligible Marylander to receive a booster shot six months after their second dose.

The Food and Drug Administration authorized booster shots of the Pfizer vaccine for adults 65 and older and for all high-risk adults on Sept. 22.

Since the FDA’s authorization, 78,141 Marylanders have received a booster shot, according to the Maryland Health Department.

Approximately 500,000 residents fall into one of the eligible categories for the vaccine booster, Hogan said, and the state has about 1 million doses in hand — more than enough to meet the demand.

The Biden administration had previously announced plans to offer a booster shot to all adults, but health guidance limited the eligible population to only the elderly and those in high-risk categories.

Hogan also announced efforts by the Maryland Health Department to individually call and text eligible residents to schedule an appointment. But, Health Secretary Dennis R. Schrader said at the news conference, “There is no need to wait to hear from us.”

The governor highlighted his administration’s focus on maintaining immunity, citing studies that indicate waning immunity in elderly populations as early as four months after their second dose.

More than 83% of Marylanders 18 and older have received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, according to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data.

As of Sept. 30, Maryland has reported 532,340 confirmed cases of COVID-19, with 1,479 of those reported in the past 24 hours, according to the Maryland Health Department.

Maryland Health Department data also shows a 4.04% test positivity rate, with 797 people hospitalized as of Thursday morning due to COVID-19.

As of Thursday morning, there had been 10,212 confirmed deaths in Maryland from COVID-19, the state said.

Hogan ordered flags to be flown at half-staff on Sept. 16 in remembrance of reaching over 10,000 related to the virus deaths in the state.

Hogan’s news conference came amid a renewed push from some lawmakers to mandate vaccinations for public schools statewide.

However, Hogan rejected calls for implementing statewide mandates.

“Because we’ve done so many (vaccinations) we haven’t found the need for it,” he said.

Hogan also said just 13 of 24 public school districts have applied to use some of the $182 million available from the state government for testing.

Children ages 12-18 are already eligible to be vaccinated and it is possible that the Pfizer vaccine will be authorized for children ages 5-11 by the end of October, according to Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.

Josh Kurtz of Maryland Matters contributed to this report.