Montgomery County officials say reopening goal in sight

Nearly half of Montgomery County, Maryland’s eligible population has been fully vaccinated, and health officials say that with the announcement of expanded use for the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine for some children, the county could reach its benchmarks for reopening by the first week of June.

Dr. Earl Stoddard, director of the county’s Office of Emergency Preparedness and Homeland Security, estimated that age group represents between 35,000 to 40,000 residents. If that group is vaccinated in large numbers, the county could approach the 60% vaccination rate required to reopen under the county’s health requirements.

Montgomery County Health Officer Dr. Travis Gayles noted that the drop-off in the number of people getting their vaccinations is in the 20 to 39 age group. He made an appeal to adults during Tuesday’s county council session.

“Our reopening metrics are tied to the percentage of folks who are vaccinated. You control your destiny on that one. So if you haven’t been vaccinated, please, get vaccinated!” he said.

Gayles and Stoddard said they expect that kids between the ages of 12 and 15 could be getting their first Pfizer vaccinations soon and said parents could start registering their children for the vaccine.

Parents will have to consent to having their children vaccinated, he said.

“The guidance that we’ve received so far is that parents will need to be present with their child when getting the vaccine.”

Parents will also have to attest to the fact that their child falls within the 12 to 15 year old age group, said Gayles.

The county is working on providing schedules, so that parents who are unable to take children to vaccination appointments during the day could get evening and weekend appointments.

Now that the county has walk-up vaccination appointments, Gayles said children will also be able to use those locations.

“They would be able to walk up to any of those sites and get a vaccine just as any other resident in the county,” said Gayles.

According to CDC data, 47.5% of Montgomery County residents are “fully vaccinated,” and Stoddard told county council members that if current vaccination rates continue, the county’s benchmark for reopening could be reached as soon as the first week in June.

More Coronavirus News

Looking for more information? D.C., Maryland and Virginia are each releasing more data every day. Visit their official sites here: Virginia | Maryland | D.C.

Kate Ryan

As a member of the award-winning WTOP News, Kate is focused on state and local government. Her focus has always been on how decisions made in a council chamber or state house affect your house. She's also covered breaking news, education and more.

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