Gov. Larry Hogan Monday sought to clarify to Marylanders who is eligible to get a COVID-19 booster shot and urged all those who fall within that category to do so as soon as possible.
Last week federal regulations approved both the Moderna and Johnson & Johnson booster shots for use in certain populations.
Prior to that decision, the Pfizer BioNTech vaccine was the only approved booster shot.
Unlike with the initial COVID-19 shots, booster recipients can mix-and-match doses with any of the three approved vaccines.
“For both Pfizer and Moderna, if you received your second dose six months ago or more, you may qualify for one of the approved categories-which are everyone 65 and older, everyone 18 and older with underlying health conditions, and everyone 18 and older whose occupation puts them at increased risk,” Hogan said at a news conference at the State House in Annapolis.
“If you are in any one of those categories, or you received a second dose of Pfizer or Moderna on or before April 25, you are now eligible. And you should strongly consider getting a COVID-19 booster shot immediately,” the governor added.
And those who received the single dose Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine “at least two months ago,” are also now eligible under federal guidelines for a booster and should get one, Hogan said.
Moreover, to help Marylanders better understand eligibility guidelines, the state has launched a new portal on its official COVID-19 vaccine website, Hogan said.
The governor emphasized that medical research has shown that COVID-19 vaccines lose a significant degree of potency after about six months and that that highlights the urgency of getting a booster shot.
“The data we now have collected clearly does show that the level of protection does wane over time, beginning after five or six months, especially for those who are immunocompromised or who have comorbidities.”
Health Secretary Dennis Schrader followed-up on the governor’s point.
“Over time the powerful protection that vaccines have given us, including against the Delta and other variants, will naturally wane. This in no way means that you are no longer protected. Because you are. What it does mean is that you may need a booster shot to maintain your immunity.”
Schrader strongly urged the estimated 1.3 million Marylanders who are believed to be eligible for a booster shot to get one as soon as possible. The Health Secretary issued the same plea to the estimated 780,000 Marylanders who have yet to receive any type of COVID-19 vaccine.
“We have plenty of supply, with vaccines on hand throughout the state. We have more than 960,000 Pfizer doses. We have more than 830,000 Moderna doses. And we have about 34,000 Johnson & Johnson doses.”
There are 556,595 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Maryland as of Monday morning, according to the Department of Health, and 10,580 people in Maryland have died from the virus. The state’s positivity rate is 3.21%, which is well within CDC recommended guidelines for containment. Maryland has administered more than 13.9 million COVID-19 tests.
About 86% of the people in Maryland have had at least one dose of the vaccine, according to the Department, and about 61% of the people in the state have received both doses of the vaccine.
Nationally, about 57% or about 190.6 million people in the U.S. have been fully vaccinated, according to the CDC.