- The Washington Times - Monday, October 25, 2021

Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan on Monday said state officials are preparing for the distribution of COVID-19 vaccines for children ages 5 to 11 pending expected federal approval for the shots soon. 

State officials have ordered an initial 180,000 doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine for children in the age group, which will be distributed to pediatricians, pharmacies, school systems and local health departments, Mr. Hogan said. 

“There will be a wide range of options for getting children vaccinated and we will be providing additional updates to make sure that parents have all the information that they need,” Mr. Hogan said. 

About 515,000 Maryland children would become eligible for COVID-19 shots if federal regulators approve Pfizer-BioNTech’s vaccine, according to the Republican governor. 

The Food and Drug Administration is scheduled to meet Tuesday to discuss Pfizer’s request to authorize the shots for 5-11-year olds. Pfizer’s data from a clinical trial shows that its vaccine was 90.7% effective at protecting against symptomatic COVID-19 for the group.  The trial involved about 2,250 5-11 year olds, with 1,518 receiving the vaccine and 750 getting a placebo.

Mr. Hogan also urged eligible residents to get their booster shots, noting that 1.4 million Marylanders meet the criteria for the extra vaccine doses. The governor and other officials stressed that residents with co-morbidities should get their booster shots as soon as possible. 

More than half of COVID-19 deaths in the state over the last month were linked to hypertension and diabetes, according to Mr. Hogan. Other top co-morbidities among those who died from COVID-19 were cancer, obesity and chronic lung disease. 

About 280,000 COVID-19 booster shots have been administered in Maryland, data show, and more than 100,000 appointments for booster shots have been booked. 

A booster dose of Pfizer’s or Moderna’s vaccine can be administered at least six months after the primary series for people 65 and older and those 18 to 64 years old with underlying conditions or who live or work in settings with high risk of exposure to the coronavirus.

A single dose of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine can be administered at least two months after the completion of the single-dose series for those 18 years and older. Adult J&J recipients also can get a booster shot of the Moderna or Pfizer vaccine.

About 98% of Marylanders 65 years and older have received at least one COVID-19 vaccine dose while almost 86% of residents ages 18 and above have received at least one coronavirus shot, statewide data shows. Nearly 85% of residents ages 12 and older have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine.

The state has confirmed more than 556,500 COVID-19 infections, 10,500 deaths and 600 hospitalizations as of Monday. The state on Monday reported a COVID-19 positivity rate of 3.21%. 

Maryland has seen recent declines in its COVID-19 positivity rate, case rate and hospitalizations, Mr. Hogan noted. 

• Shen Wu Tan can be reached at stan@washingtontimes.com.

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