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Maryland authorizes Pfizer booster shots in line with federal rules

Gov. Larry Hogan said Friday that state health officials have authorized the immediate use of COVID-19 booster shots for more Marylanders.

The governor’s announcement is in line with new authorization from the Centers For Disease Control and Prevention.

“In line with our federal partners, state health officials have issued a bulletin directing vaccine providers to immediately make booster shots available to eligible Marylanders who received their second Pfizer dose at least six months ago,” Hogan said in a statement. “In addition, we are encouraging providers to conduct outreach to previously vaccinated individuals. If you received your second Pfizer dose at least six months ago, you should strongly consider getting a booster shot.

On Friday Dr. Rochelle Walensky, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, authorized booster shots for millions of Americans, including people 65 and older; nursing home residents and those ages 50 to 64 who have risky underlying health problems; and front-line health care workers, teachers and other workers in high-risk jobs.

The approval only applies to people who have received two doses of the Pfizer vaccine. The CDC has not yet been asked to rule on boosters for the one-dose Johnson & Johnson or the two-dose Moderna vaccines.

“This is important progress, but we continue to press the federal government to issue clear guidance for individuals who received the Moderna or Johnson & Johnson vaccines, Hogan said. “And with students back in classrooms, it is critical that the federal government expedite approval of vaccines for 5- to 11-year-olds.”

Hogan’s latest authorization comes as Maryland and the nation contend with waning effectiveness of the vaccine, spikes of infections driven by the delta variant and the possibility of new, more dangerous variants.

“While this action was long overdue, I am glad that the federal government has finally approved booster shots for seniors and high-risk individuals,” Hogan said in his statement. “It is a significant step toward providing additional protection for our most vulnerable residents, and supports the data-based decision we made earlier this month to move ahead on booster shots for seniors in congregate settings.”

Hogan announced roughly two weeks ago that all residents of nursing homes, assisted living and residential treatment facilities and group homes for the developmentally disabled who are 65 and older are immediately eligible for booster shots.

The announcement expanded on federal authorizations of boosters for the immunocompromised.

The governor cited a state review that tested 500 nursing home residents on coronavirus antibodies in an attempt to determine immunity levels.