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Maryland Lawmakers Push Vaccine Mandate for Students on Eve of New School Year

Members of the Maryland Senate, alarmed over rising coronavirus cases, are pushing for students to get vaccinated before returning to in-person learning.

The Senate Vaccine Oversight Workgroup, charged with monitoring the distribution of vaccines in the state, convened Tuesday for the first time since June due to the rapid spread of the delta variant.

With the state’s coronavirus positivity rate at 4.54 on Aug. 13 — an increase from 0.54 in June — Tonya Webb, a COVID-19 data analyst, told the committee the spike is “steeper or sharper” than at the pandemic’s outset or during the peak last fall and winter, WTOP reported.

Senators were shown data indicating that only about 50% of students eligible for a vaccine are fully vaccinated.

Sen. Jim Rosapepe (D-District 21), who represents part of Prince George’s County, wanted to know why the Hogan administration didn’t order mandatory vaccinations for Marylanders entering school buildings. In response, Maryland Health Secretary Dennis Schrader said his department doesn’t have the power to mandate such vaccinations for students.

Members of the workgroup disagreed, particularly Sen. Clarence K. Lam (D-District 12), a physician who represents Baltimore and Howard counties.

“It seems to fairly, clearly articulate that you have the authority to do this, and given we are only a few weeks away, if not just a week or two … it seems like there’s no strategy here to get students vaccinated,” Lam said, WTOP reported.

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