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Baltimore balks at boosters for seniors

New state health order clears shots in group settings
Posted at 3:20 PM, Sep 10, 2021
and last updated 2021-09-10 18:06:51-04

BALTIMORE — The wait is over for seniors here in Maryland waiting to get booster shots in nursing homes and assisted living centers, but Baltimore City Health Commissioner Dr. Letitia Dzirasa says it’s too soon.

“Though there’s been discussion, there has not been full approval yet, and so if something is not yet fully approved, it’s considered to be an off-label use,” said Dzirasa. “and again, we’d like to wait until we see full approval from the FDA and the ACIP before opening it up to the general population.”

Governor Larry Hogan says he’s waited long enough.

A pilot program launched last month to test anti-bodies in 500 nursing home residents here in Maryland prompted him to move ahead without the feds’ help.

“The findings reported by the Maryland Department of Health indicated that more than 60% of demonstrated some sort of waning immunity over time and showed that as many as one in three are particularly vulnerable,” said Hogan in announcing the new booster availability earlier this week.

The state also has already administered 28,000 federally-approved boosters to the immunocompromised, and now it is encouraging pharmacies to provide more of the shots with no questions asked.

“We’re not prohibiting it, but we do run vaccination clinics and we provide vaccinations across the city so our vaccination sites, again, are not going to be doing any off-label use of vaccines at this point,” reiterated Dzirasa.

A week from today on September 17th, the Food and Drug Administration will be debating whether to approve boosters, signaling there will no movement at the national level any time soon.