Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan said on Friday that the state has expanded eligibility for COVID-19 vaccine boosters to include all adults as a way to help maintain immunity against severe illness.
His announcement followed shortly after the Food and Drug Administration’s decision to green-light the extra doses for everyone 18 years and older.
“As the holiday season approaches, with more travel and more gatherings, we are encouraging all Marylanders to get a booster shot and maintain their immunity,” Mr. Hogan said in a statement. “The state has a robust network of vaccination providers, and we continue to have both the supply and the capacity to provide a booster shot to anyone who needs one.”
The Maryland Department of Health has issued a new bulletin directing all providers to administer upon request a booster dose of either the Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna COVID-19 vaccine to those 18 years and older who completed the primary series of vaccinations at least six months ago. Those who received the single-shot Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine at least two months ago are also eligible to receive a booster dose.
State health officials strongly advise that individuals 65 years and older, those with underlying medical conditions or people who live or work in high-risk settings get a booster shot as soon as possible.
The FDA’s move Friday to expand eligibility of booster doses of the Moderna and Pfizer COVID-19 vaccines to all adults comes as coronavirus cases across the U.S. are starting to climb ahead of the holiday season.
Regulators bypassed an advisory committee that rejected the proposal of widespread boosters in September. A separate advisory panel for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will meet Friday to discuss expanding booster shot eligibility to all adults.
In a new bulletin, the Maryland Department of Health said that providers may not turn away any person requesting a booster dose for failing to “show proof” of eligibility.
As of Friday, Maryland has administered nearly 803,000 booster shots, including to almost half of its eligible seniors, according to an update from the governor.
Officials in several states including Colorado, California, New Mexico, Arkansas, Kansas and Kentucky broadened eligibility for COVID-19 vaccine booster shots to all adults ahead of the FDA’s approval.