Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan (left) speaks during a June 9 press briefing to announce the state's long-term plan to battle COVID-19. Joining Hogan (from left) are state Health Secretary Dennis Schrader; Dr. Jinlene Chan, the state’s deputy health secretary for public health services; and Dr. Howard Haft, executive director of the Maryland Primary Care Program. (Robert R. Roberts/The Washington Informer)
Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan (left) speaks during a June 9 press briefing to announce the state's long-term plan to battle COVID-19. Joining Hogan (from left) are state Health Secretary Dennis Schrader; Dr. Jinlene Chan, the state’s deputy health secretary for public health services; and Dr. Howard Haft, executive director of the Maryland Primary Care Program. (Robert R. Roberts/The Washington Informer)

The Biden administration continues to prepare and begin distributing more than 10 million doses of the COVID-19 vaccine nationwide for children ages 5 and younger at local hospitals, clinics, health departments, pharmacies and other locations.

An advisory committee with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will meet Saturday, June 18. If the committee grants a favorable recommendation that’s approved by the CDC and Food and Drug Administration, vaccines could be available as soon the week of June 20.

Danielle Anthony of Upper Marlboro said she won’t decide on whether to allow her 18-month-old son to become vaccinated until after she consults with his pediatrician.

Anthony, who mentors up-and-coming teachers in the Prince George’s County public schools, received the vaccine while being pregnant. She received the vaccine booster after the birth of her son.

“When you get the flu shot, that carries over to your child. I’m curious to find out if the [COVID-19] vaccine does the same thing,” said Anthony, who has two older children, ages 8 and 15, both of whom are fully vaccinated. 

“We didn’t do it right away with them,” he said. “I’m not a medical expert. I try to trust the science but I have my skepticisms as well.”

To alleviate doubts while educating the public, government and health officials continue to partner with community organizations including the NAACP as respected voices to inform residents why the vaccine remains the best tool against COVID-19.

Maryland health officials said the state remains one of the highest in the nation in terms of vaccinations which includes children ages 5 to 11 who’ve received at least one dose of the Pfizer vaccine. About 43% received two doses.

In the past two weeks, about 10% of the children in that age group had already received a COVID-19 booster shot, said Dr. Jinlene Chan, the state’s deputy health secretary for public health services, during a press briefing on June 9 in Annapolis.

About 358,000 children age 5 and younger live in Maryland and could receive the vaccine. 

She said she’s spoken to some parents who question the need for children to be vaccinated because COVID-19 has had far fewer impacts on children compared to adults 65 and older. 

“That’s true but this year alone we’ve had over 300 kids under 5 who have been hospitalized. That’s not a small thing,” she said. “Hospitalizations are something we want to prevent. Vaccines are still our greatest tool in the fight against COVID-19.”

In the meantime, the state released a “COVIDReady Maryland” plan to battle the ongoing coronavirus pandemic as a possible surge could affect the state when the weather gets cooler in the fall.

The plan encourages Marylanders to get vaccinated and receive a booster shot, additional outreach and public awareness, surge preparedness and increase and maximize use of therapeutics.

The state’s “Test to Treat” program has nearly 90 locations including a site in Baltimore. The locations allow people to get tested and if eligible, receive medications and vaccines during the same visit. Several dozen urgent care and ambulatory care locations offering testing and treatment are scheduled to open later this year.

The main goal: keep people out of the hospital.

“We continue to stand ready to adapt and respond just as we have over these last 2½ years,” Hogan said at the State House in Annapolis. “As the number of cases go up and down, is best to continue to be smart and to exercise personal responsibility so that together we will continue to be COVID ready and Maryland strong.”

For more information and to find a testing site, residents can still call 1-855-GO-MDVAX (855-634-6829).

Coverage for the Washington Informer includes Prince George’s County government, school system and some state of Maryland government. Received an award in 2019 from the D.C. Chapter of the Society of...

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