ANNAPOLIS — Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan announced Wednesday that state residents who stay in nursing homes, senior-assisted living facilities and other group settings will be available to register for a COVID-19 vaccine booster shot.
According to an order from the state health department, the booster will be specifically for those 65 and older at residential drug treatment centers and developmentally disabled group homes.
The Republican governor’s announcement comes as the Biden administration pushes to provide boosters for older adults eight months after finishing the initial vaccine regimen.
“To be clear, these facilities will not have to wait in offering boosters,” he said.
The date federal officials targeted is Sept. 20, but final authorization hasn’t been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
However, those with weakened or compromised immune systems are eligible to receive a booster immediately, based on recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Hogan also pushed for the Biden administration to provide boosters for the single-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine, which has been administered to 280,000 Marylanders. The governor has also called for expediting the process for those younger than 12 to become eligible for a vaccine.
Currently, only the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine is available for children 12-17. The Moderna and Johnson & Johnson vaccines are authorized for those 18 and older.
A booster shot for the two-dose Pfizer and Moderna vaccines is under discussion.
“For several weeks now, states have had to operate without clear guidance from the federal government regarding these booster shots,” Hogan said. “The limited guidance we have received has been confusing and contradictory … all of the evidence makes it abundantly clear that we cannot afford to delay taking decision action to protect our most vulnerable citizens.”
Health officials have said unvaccinated people make up the majority of Maryland’s current new cases and related hospitalizations, particularly as the virus’s highly contagious delta variant continues to ravage the state.
As of Wednesday, 817 people are hospitalized with the virus. Prior to Friday, that total hadn’t been above 800 since May 9.
The state will launch a $3 million COVID-19 project to canvass door to door in specific areas where vaccination rates remain low.
Hogan also announced Wednesday that 95% of residents 65 and older have been at least partially vaccinated and the state’s 4.68% positivity rate is sixth-best in the nation.
Maryland’s vaccination rate of nearly 82% for those 18 and older who have received at least one dose is also among the best nationwide.
“We’re proud of the fact that we are in much better shape here in Maryland,” Hogan said.