Montgomery County, Maryland, continues to lead the pack in COVID-19 vaccine booster doses and pediatric vaccinations.
Already among the most vaccinated counties in Maryland, the county has administered more than 182,000 booster doses, which is the most in the state, according to data presented Wednesday by officials during a weekly media briefing.
During the briefing, officials also discussed efforts to administer pediatric vaccine doses and the pilot rollout of a “test-to-stay” program aimed at keeping public school students out of large-scale quarantines.
Residents of Baltimore City are the second most-boosted in the state — 122,000 additional doses have been administered to residents there. In Prince George’s County, more than 89,000 additional doses have been administered.
As of earlier this week, the state reported a total of more than 861,000 booster shots. Nearly half the state’s eligible seniors have received a booster shot.
The data on booster shots administered so far comes a few days after federal health officials approved booster COVID-19 shots for all adults.
According to data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 91.7% of the county’s total population has now had at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine.
County health officials estimate about 30% of the roughly 100,000 children ages 5 to 11 in the county have received their first dose of the special pediatric version of the Pfizer vaccine.
The county continues to be the largest provider of pediatric vaccines, accounting for 45% of pediatric doses administered among all providers in the county, according to the county’s acting health officer, Dr. James Bridgers.
Doctors’ offices in the county have administered 27% of the pediatric vaccinations so far; pharmacies have administered 23% of the shots; community nonprofits account for 3% of shots, and hospitals account for 2%.
County Executive Marc Elrich and other county officials thanked the state Department of Health for sending an additional 5,000 pediatric doses to the health department — a total of 12,000 for the county health department’s weekly allotment.
Last week, county officials said they had all but exhausted their supply of pediatric doses and were concerned about doses at pharmacies and hospitals potentially going unused.
Also this week, the county rolled out an initial pilot of the much-anticipated “test-to-stay” program to reduce the number of students in Montgomery County Public Schools in large quarantines.
Earl Stoddard, the county’s assistant chief administrative officer, said the program launched Monday with the rapid testing of students in a classroom that he did not identify for privacy reasons.
He acknowledged the program is starting small — the class comprised fewer than 10 students — but they were all able to stay in school after a potential exposure instead of having to quarantine.
But Montgomery County is now the first school system in Maryland to roll out the program, and officials say it will eventually expand.
“It won’t be a zero to 60 miles an hour,” Stoddard said. “It’ll be a gradual escalation over time with increased classrooms being identified, But we have the capacity.”
The program, which allows students exposed to confirmed positive COVID-19 cases to remain in the classroom as long as they continue to test negative during a daily rapid COVID-19 testing regimen.
The rollout of the program had been delayed by slow hiring of staff to administer the rapid tests and then was paused as the county aligned the program with state guidance.
“It’s been slower than any of us would have liked — including, I’m sure, our parents, because I’ve heard from many of them — but, obviously, we’re making progress and we look to continue to expand that program forward,” Stoddard said.
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