Sharfstein: Maryland unlikely to see a ‘huge’ winter surge in critical COVID-19 infections

Sharfstein: Maryland unlikely to see a ‘huge’ winter surge in critical COVID-19 infections

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay


Former Department of Health and Mental Hygiene Secretary Dr. Joshua Sharfstein said Monday that because Maryland has a “very high vaccination rate” the state is unlikely to experience a “huge” winter surge in critical COVID-19 infections.

To date, 88% of Marylanders are partially vaccinated, according to the Department of Health, and about 62% are fully vaccinated.

Nationally, about 74% of the population is partially vaccinated, according to the CDC, and about 59% are fully vaccinated.

Below is an edited excerpt of an interview with Sharfstein. Sharfstein also discussed the importance of booster shots and the debate over both mask and vaccine mandates. The state’s positivity rate is getting close to 4% and it may continue to increase as the weather gets colder. How concerned are you about a possible winter surge with the variants?

Sharfstein: I do have some concern and I think that people need to be careful. But I also have a lot of confidence in the vaccine. And I think that in Maryland where we have a very high vaccination rate that it is unlikely that we will see a huge surge in the number of people who are very sick. How important is it to get a booster shot after having received both the first and second doses of the vaccine? 

Sharfstein: I would say that it is going to be helpful for people to get their boosters. What is really important is for the people who have not been vaccinated at all to get vaccinated because they are the people at the greatest risk for getting very sick. How great is the risk of serious illness for those who have had both the first and second doses of the vaccine but have yet to get a booster shot? 

Sharfstein: It is more serious for people who are older or who are immunocompromised. For people who are younger the risk is not very high of getting very sick. But the risk is certainly higher for getting an infection. I would say that people who are older and immunocompromised really should be getting a booster right away. Others can walk, but not necessarily run to get their booster.

But I do think that it is a good idea. When the first vaccine came out, that was a big deal to get that first shot. And it is for people who have not gotten any shots. Some of the jurisdictions in the state, such as Montgomery County, have reinstated indoor mask mandates. Do you expect mask mandates to become more prevalent in the winter months?

Sharfstein: It might happen for periods of time. It really depends on the amount of transmission and the risk at the moment. I think we may be looking at periods of time where we may be wearing masks for awhile. It could be like having an umbrella in your bag. There has been a lot of passionate debate over vaccine mandates. Now that the vaccine is approved for essentially everyone ages 5 and up, should children in schools be required to get vaccinated to attend class? 

Sharfstein: I would say that it is too early for a requirement for young children because really the vaccine just became available for that age group. And it is available under an emergency authorization. I think that we will get a lot of information from having millions of children vaccinated.

About The Author

Bryan Renbaum

Reporter Bryan Renbaum served as the Capitol Hill Correspondent for Talk Media News for the past three-and-a-half years, filing print, radio and video reports on the Senate and the House of Representatives. He covered congressional reaction to the inauguration of President Donald Trump as well as the confirmation hearings of attorneys general Jeff Sessions and William Barr and Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh. He also filed breaking news reports on the 2017 shooting of House Majority Whip Steve Scalise and three others. Previously Bryan broke multiple stories with the Baltimore Post-Examiner including sexual assault scandals at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County and a texting scandal on the women’s lacrosse team at that school for which he was interviewed by ABC’s “Good Morning America.” He also covered the Maryland General Assembly during the 2016 legislative session as an intern for Maryland Reporter. He has a bachelor’s degree in political science from McDaniel College. If you have additional questions or comments contact Bryan at:

1 Comment

  1. Dale leatham

    And yet still NO mention of natural immunity when over 100 world wide studies show definitively that natural immunity is much more robust than vaccine immunity. Kind of makes people wonder.

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