Gov. Larry Hogan on Thursday urged Marylanders to get coronavirus vaccine booster shots if they’re eligible.
Despite “limited, confusing and contradictory guidance” from the federal government, Hogan said, hundreds of thousands of Maryland residents who received the vaccine are eligible to get a booster dose.
Already, 78,000 people in Maryland have gotten a booster vaccine, the Republican governor said at a State House news conference in Annapolis.
The rules for boosters vary based on the type of vaccine received.
Those eligible for Pfizer/BioNTech boosters must be at least six months out from their second shot of the two-dose regimen. They also must meet one of the following criteria: Be 65 or older, have an underlying condition such as asthma or diabetes, or work in a high-risk setting such as health care or food service.
“If you’re in one of these categories, you should strongly consider getting a COVID-19 booster shot immediately,” Hogan said.
For those who received the two-dose Moderna vaccine, boosters are available only for people who have health conditions that affect their immune system.
Booster shots have not been approved for those who received the one-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine.
“If you’re confused about boosters, you’re not alone,” Hogan said.
Maryland’s coronavirus call center has begun contacting residents eligible for booster doses to let them know they can get the extra shot. The state will advertise on television, radio and social media to encourage booster shots, too.
Hogan and top state health officials urged those who are not vaccinated to consider getting the shot. And Hogan expressed hope that vaccines would be approved soon for those younger than 12 who currently cannot be vaccinated.
And when people do test positive for the coronavirus, Hogan said they should ask their doctors if they’re a candidate for monoclonal antibody treatment. While the treatment is running low in some states, Hogan said Maryland has “abundant supply.”
As of Thursday, 797 people were being treated for the coronavirus in Maryland hospitals, according to state data.
Hogan touted the hospitalization rate as being a 60% lower than the state’s peak during the pandemic. While that is correct — there were nearly 2,000 people hospitalized at the peak in January — the current level of hospital patients also represents an eightfold increase from early July. Back then, fewer than 100 people were being treated in the hospital.
Dr. Ted Delbridge, director of the Maryland Institute for Emergency Medical Services Systems, said the patient load in hospitals has been pretty steady around 800 for the past three weeks.
“We hope that signals a peak in the current COVID-19 surge,” Delbridge said.
All told, more than 530,000 people have tested positive for the virus since March 2020 and 10,212 Marylanders have died.