Following the granting of Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) by both the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the Maryland Department of Health has updated its COVID-19 Vaccine Plan to allow the use of Pfizer-BioNTech’s and Moderna’s revised COVID-19 booster shots.
The boosters are bivalent, meaning they provide immunity for both the original strains of the virus and more recent strains such as Omicron and its subvariants BA.4 and BA.5. As of Friday, September 2nd, BA.5 accounted for 79.2 sequenced cases in the state and 90 percent of sequenced cases in the country. With the modified boosters’ approval, monovalent boosters addressing only the original strains are no longer recommended for Marylanders ages 12 and older.
Marylanders 18 years or older are eligible for the bivalent booster if it “has been at least two months since they have completed primary vaccination or received their last booster dose.” The same applies to the Pfizer covalent booster and individuals 12 years or older.
Governor Larry Hogan explained the importance of the bivalent booster shot in a press release:
‘This new bivalent booster shot is another important tool in our toolbox to help Marylanders stay COVIDReady,’ said Governor Hogan. ‘While federal guidance has made it confusing at times for people to know if and when they’re eligible, everyone 12 and older will be able to get to this new shot. Maryland continues to be one of the most vaccinated and boosted states, and we have always focused on staying ahead of the virus, which is why getting this new shot is so critical.’
The Maryland Department of Health (MDH) preordered 157,600 doses of bivalent boosters (114,000 Pfizer; 43,600 Moderna) for local health departments, federally qualified health centers, and providers across the state. These doses are in addition to allocations that the federal government has sent directly to pharmacy partners. Moreover, the state’s GoVax Call Center, 1-855-MDGOVAX (1-855-634-6829), will begin a new call and text-based booster outreach campaign. The Center offers homebound vaccination options and rideshare opportunities for individuals with transportation access issues.