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Hogan expands eligibility for COVID-19 booster shots

All Maryland adults who are fully vaccinated are now eligible for a COVID-19 booster shot.

Gov. Larry Hogan announced the expansion of eligibility this morning following a decision by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to approve booster doses of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines for adults. A Centers for Disease Control and Prevention panel is expected to meet later on Friday to ratify the FDA decision.

Hogan’s announcement comes as nearly a dozen states have already expanded access to the vaccinations or signaled their intent to do so without federal approval. The governor also has come under increasing pressure from some county leaders to join the ranks of those states.

“As the holiday season approaches, with more travel and more gatherings, we are encouraging all Marylanders to get a booster shot and maintain their immunity,” Hogan said. “The state has a robust network of vaccination providers, and we continue to have both the supply and the capacity to provide a booster shot to anyone who needs one.”

A state Health Department bulletin issued this morning directs providers to administer a booster to any adult who completed the two-dose Pfizer or Moderna regimen at least six months ago.

Some local health officials in Maryland this week called on the governor to expand eligibility. At least one county, Anne Arundel, said they were already allowing any fully vaccinated adult to get a booster, citing an expanded definition of who is at risk.

Adults who were fully vaccinated six or more months ago still have high levels of protection from the most serious effects of COVID-19. But local health officials cited waning immunity in those same adults and a rise in cases in the last two weeks as colder weather pushes people toward indoor activities.

Expanding eligibility for boosters along with vaccinations for children 5-11 are seen by health experts as the next steps in controlling the pandemic.

Previously, boosters were reserved for anyone 65 or older or adults 18 and older who had underlying medical conditions or worked in a high risk job.

The expansion means any adult 18 or older who has had the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine at least six months ago is eligible for a third dose. Those who received the one-shot Johnson & Johnson vaccine can get a booster two months after their vaccination.

Those seeking a booster are not restricted to the vaccine they originally received. CDC guidelines allow for mixing and matching booster doses.

 

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