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Making a good thing better, Howard County's push for vaccinations before school starts

Posted at 1:46 PM, Aug 10, 2021
and last updated 2021-08-10 17:08:56-04

COLUMBIA, Md. — The 30-second spot is one of three public service announcements featuring a Howard County family, which will be circulated over the next three weeks leading up to the first day of school.

“These other folks had really good statements in terms of statistics and all of these other pieces and I’m going to leave that to them,” said Keith O’Neil who agreed to let his family be featured in the ad. “but for us, we’re really passionate about making sure people do the right thing for themselves.”

Making a good thing better, Howard County's push for vaccinations before school starts

Those statistics include more than 86 percent of all eligible county residents have received at least one shot, including almost four out of five of school-age students 12 and over.

According to a survey of the county’s 6,000 public school teachers, they too, have chosen to be vaccinated.

“Our initial surveys had us close to 98-to-99 percent of our staff are fully vaccinated,” said HCPSS Superintendent Dr. Michael Martirano.

But even with the high rates of vaccination, 38,000 eligible residents have chosen not to get the shots, and health officials are concerned that may put everyone at risk of contracting the new variant.

“Over the past month, our positivity rate has increased 400 percent and case rate has increased more than 500 percent,” said Howard County Health Officer Dr. Maura Rossman.

The county has an ample supply of all three vaccines and free clinics without appointments for those who decide it’s time to get the shot.