Maryland is almost done distributing $1 million in incentives for youngsters to get vaccinated against COVID-19.
Every 12- to 17-year-old in the state who’s gotten at least one shot is automatically eligible for a chance to win a $50,000 college scholarship.
“We still have four more scholarships to draw next Monday, Labor Day, and we’re really urging everybody 12 to 17, ‘Go get your shot this week, so that you’re eligible for the drawing on Monday,'” Maryland Secretary of Health Dennis R. Schrader said.
The scholarships can be used at the college of the recipient’s choice.
Since the drawings began more than seven weeks ago, Schrader said vaccination rates for that age group jumped by about 15%, up to 66.5%.
While vaccination rates across the board are relatively high in the state — 80.9% for all Maryland adults 18 and over and near 95% for adults 65 and older are fully vaccinated — close to 1 million Marylanders have yet to get vaccinated against COVID-19.
Schrader believes the Pfizer vaccine receiving full approval from the Food and Drug Administration for individuals 16 and older should eliminate some concerns.
“A lot of people who had told us previously that they didn’t get vaccinated because they were waiting for full approval — well, as far as the Pfizer product is concerned, that’s gone,” he said.
The message now, Schrader said, is, “There’s no reason not to get vaccinated; please go get vaccinated.”
On the distribution of the vaccine should demand grow with newly-eligible groups of people, Schrader said supply challenges are no longer an issue, and the infrastructure remains in place for people to receive shots from myriad sources, such as pharmacies, hospitals, health systems and private practitioners.
“The things we did originally to get people vaccinated worked really, really well. But we left a lot of that infrastructure in place. So it’ll be a lot easier that people can take it upon themselves to get additional shots,” he said.
Third doses of the Pfizer and Moderna mRNA vaccines are recommended for people who are immunocompromised and need a third shot to achieve full immunity.
It’s been suggested that eight months after individuals become fully inoculated against COVID-19, they may need a booster dose.
The Biden administration has said those booster shots might become available to Americans beginning Sept. 20.
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