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'A Phase Of Maintaining Immunity': Gov. Hogan Pushes COVID-19 Booster Shots, Prepares State To Vaccinate Children

ANNAPOLIS, Md. (WJZ) -- The state health department is starting to reach out to thousands of Marylanders eligible for COVID-19 booster shots to encourage people to get that additional dose. The state is pushing eight million vaccine doses administered with thousands more each day getting booster shots.

Health officials reiterated Thursday who is eligible for the Pfizer booster -- those 65 and older, adults with underlying conditions, those who work in high-risk settings, and those who live or work in long-term care settings.

"If you're eligible for a booster shot, please get one. If you are unvaccinated, please get vaccinated," said Dennis Schrader, Maryland Dept. of Health.

Health officials say more than 82 percent of Marylanders eligible for the vaccine have gotten a shot. The state's positivity rate is steady at 4 percent, with nearly 800 Marylanders hospitalized with covid, as of Thursday. Health officials say rural hospitals are most affected.

"The hospitals with the highest numbers of COVID-19 patients serve the Eastern Shore and part of the western state, where a lower proportion of residents have sought vaccination," said Dr. Ted Delbridge, MD Institute for Emergency Medical Services Systems.

There are 11 pediatric hospitalizations in Maryland. Health officials say the state's distributed 100 thousand rapid tests to local schools.

They have more than 320,000 rapid tests on hand and say many schools have supplies from last school year. School systems have until Oct. 10 to sign up for a CDC screening testing program.

"There's no excuse for any school system to fail to take steps to keeping their kids and teachers safe," Gov. Hogan said Thursday.

Vaccine approval for those ages five to 11 is expected in the coming weeks.

"I have directed state health officials to advance and accelerate their operation plans for vaccinating children," Gov. Hogan added.

A statewide call center has scheduled more than 30,000 appointments for booster shots so far. The governor also reiterated today he does not support vaccine mandates."

For the latest information on coronavirus go to the Maryland Health Department's website or call 211. You can find all of WJZ's coverage on coronavirus in Maryland here.

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