Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan is urging the Biden administration to pursue what he says are critical actions necessary to stem the spread of new, more infectious variants of the COVID-19 virus.
In a letter sent Tuesday to President Biden, the Republican governor implored the White House to hasten its planned rollout of boosters, pursue full approval of all available vaccines and expedite vaccine availability for kids under 12.
“We are extremely proud that, as of Aug. 22, Maryland has vaccinated 80% of adults and nearly 95% of seniors, making our state one of the most vaccinated in the country,” Hogan wrote.
“However, the challenges states around the country are facing with the Delta variant has proven that we cannot be complacent and must continue taking all possible steps to protect our citizens, particularly those most vulnerable to serious illness and death.”
New cases and hospitalizations in Maryland have been on an upward swing since mid-July, like much of the country. But the state’s death rates have not responded in kind, owing to ample defense offered by all three publicly-available vaccines against serious illness.
Hogan said federal health officials need to provide boosters for vulnerable populations as soon as possible to safeguard that protection, citing recent data from the Maryland Department of Health that suggests waning immunity among the elderly ahead of the eight-month mark cited by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The 280,000 Marylanders who have received the single-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine, Hogan said, are also waiting for clarification on future doses: “Timely and accurate guidance on boosters for these citizens is critical to ensure equity and public trust,” he added.
The governor’s letter follows the Food and Drug Administration’s formal licensing of the two-dose Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine for Americans age 16 and older, an act expected to pave the way for additional vaccine mandates.
In addition to full approval of the Moderna and Johnson & Johnson vaccines, Hogan said the White House should speed up vaccines for kids 11 and under as millions of students head back to classrooms full-time. As of Tuesday, only children 12 and over can get a vaccine — Pfizer and Moderna are still running trials to determine the right dosages for younger kids.
“Over 450,000 Marylanders aged 12 to 17 have been immunized with the Pfizer vaccine, and significant data exists on the impact on the younger populations,” Hogan said. “Now is not the time for bureaucratic delays.”