BALTIMORE, Md. — According to the CDC, Maryland ranks 15th in the nation for people getting both shots of the two-dose vaccines.
Maryland Department of Health Assistant Secretary Bryan Myroz believes one group is responsible for the ranking.
“I always want to thank the Marylanders because they're the ones who are ultimately responsible for getting their second doses. So, it really is a credit to all the Marylanders who are out there,” Mroz said.
Mroz also points to a series of reminders which begin the moment people show up for their first shot.
“If you go to our mass vac sites, we're setting up appointments immediately when they get their first appointment. We do utilize the full spectrum of contact so when they leave the site, they get a piece of paper that they can hold in hand. We get an email. We get a phone number. We call. We send a reminder. We check in. So, we're trying to hit it from all different directions” Mroz said.
University of Maryland Medical System COVID-19 incident commander Dr. David Marcozzi said “so now we have an approach that says we're going to approach you to ensure that you have a comprehensive scheduling approach. Second, we have a multi-disciplinary administrative approach, and that's why i think you're seeing some good data come out of the CDC.”
Dr. Marcozzi also is a senior medical advisor to Governor Hogan on COIVD-19. UMMS manages the M&T Bank Stadium mass vaccination site in a joint partnership with the state.
The Maryland Health Department has set a goal of getting 100,000 shots into arms per day as the total number of doses given continues to add up.
“You're seeing a substantial growth in a short period time, from zero to one million. And then, one million to two. We're seeing a significant impact of the amount and exponential growth of the vaccine capacity in our state to put shots in arms,” Marcozzi said.
Captain Robin Toblin is the epidemiology team lead for the CDC COVID-19 vaccine task force.
Toblin also is one of the authors of a CDC report which takes a look at how many people are going ahead with their second dose and how much time passed between vaccinations.
“We were really excited to see that 96 percent of people who got the second dose, got it in that recommended timeframe. That's a really high number to see, so we were excited about that, and the fact that 88 percent of people had completed their second dose in that allowable timeframe, in the recommended timeframe. That was great news too,” Toblin said.
“We're hoping that the numbers show that, A, we're doing a great job as a nation, and our systems are working, but we know there are a small number of people who are getting their second dose too early, or aren’t coming back at all,” Toblin added..
A COIVD vaccination appointment is highly coveted by thousands of people in Maryland, yet some people who get their first shot of one of the two-dose vaccines don't get their second.
“The vast majority of people are getting it, there are a few, and I would imagine it happens for every reason that we could imagine that we all miss every appointment…I couldn't make the schedule, I forgot, I tried, I know you sent me reminders,” Mroz said.
“Perhaps everyone's heard that maybe the second shot you have a little bit more side effect than the first shot, but when I’m talking to people about the vaccine, I always say 'would you much rather have a little bit of flu-like symptoms for just about 12 to 24 hours then it goes away, and you be protected against COVID, versus still being potentially at risk for COVID,” Marcozzi said.
“I don't want anyone to think, ‘oh I missed it, so therefore I shouldn't go.’ No, please, go get it. Reschedule it if you missed it, but definitely go ahead and get the second dose,” Mroz said.
“We also want to remind people, that Pfizer and Moderna, although its recommended up to a three-week and a four-week interval, that the CDC has expanded that to 42 days,” Mroz added.
“We really recommend that 42 days is really the outer limit of CDC recommends, but still there is not a need to start the second dose, to start a series again, instead, just come back and get that second dose. If delays are unavoidable, come back anyway,” Toblin said.
Health officials say it's not too late to reschedule but sooner is better than later.
“They just want you to get your second dose, anytime. It's really talking about the efficacy. When does it start losing. They're touting they're 92 percent, 94 percent efficacy. When it gets past those 42 days, they're finding it's a little less efficacious, but we still want you to get it,” Mroz said.
The Johnson & Johnson vaccine requires only one shot and makes it easier for scheduling only one appointment, but health officials reiterate all three vaccines are effective and advise people to get whichever one is available.