COVID-19 cases are down, vaccines up as Maryland nears 70% adult vaccinations

Maryland is on track to have 70% of its adult population vaccinated against COVID-19 by Memorial Day. But the state’s health secretary vows not to stop there.

Around 66% of Marylanders, age 18 and over, had been vaccinated as of Monday evening. Ten thousand to 12,000 vaccinations per day over the next two weeks are needed to reach the goal set by Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan.

“We’re on a march to Memorial Day, which is when we project we will reach 70% of (adult) Marylanders vaccinated with at least one dose,” Secretary of Health Dennis Schrader told Monday night’s meeting of the Maryland Senate Vaccine Oversight Work Group.

But Schrader said it will take a higher share than 70% to quell the pandemic, now in its second year.

“We believe we’ve got to go a lot further than that to get to herd immunity. Pick a number — 85, 90, 95. We’re going to keep going until we have a higher vaccination rate,” Schrader said. “It took us six months to get to where we are … we’re going to be grinding.”

Since the state began vaccinating children ages 12 to 15 last week, Schrader said nearly 27,000 kids got shots in four days. There are 307,000 children in that age group still unvaccinated, and Schrader said outreach efforts will be made to their parents.

“On the vaccine front, on the COVID front, across the board we are seeing really positive metrics,” said Senate President Bill Ferguson, who chairs the state’s vaccine work group.

The state’s 7-day positivity rate, or the average number of tests returning positive, is 2.51% — at its lowest since September 2020. Both COVID-19 cases and deaths are down, and hospitalizations have been cut in half since April.

Schrader told the Senate panel that mobile vaccination units and pop-up vaccination sites will play big roles in the state’s effort to reach nearly all adults in the state with vaccines.

Vaccine distribution from local health departments, hospitals and doctor’s offices will also be key in the final phase of the state’s vaccination effort.

The panel was also told that Montgomery and Howard counties have the state’s highest vaccination rates; Allegany and Somerset counties have the lowest.

While new COVID-19 case rates are lower than in months passed, the panel was told most of the new cases, since mid-April, are in the greater Baltimore area, southern Harford County and northern Anne Arundel County.

Dick Uliano

Whether anchoring the news inside the Glass-Enclosed Nerve Center or reporting from the scene in Maryland, Virginia or the District, Dick Uliano is always looking for the stories that really impact people's lives.

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