Maryland Governor Redefines Fully Vaccinated

Terrie Mead

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Executive Office of the Governor

ANNAPOLIS, Md. – Maryland’s governor contradicted the world’s leading health organizations at a recent news conference when he narrowly defined a fully vaccinated person as one who has received their booster shot.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have so far considered an individual fully vaccinated “two weeks after their second dose in a two-dose series” or “two weeks after a single-dose vaccine of Johnson & Johnson Janssen’s vaccine.” The CDC recommends boosters for everyone over 18-years-old, but they stop short of instituting a policy change.

“The vaccines have been proven to be extremely effective, but the data does show waning immunity after six months or so,” Gov. Hogan said. “So even if you have received two shots, you are not fully vaccinated, immune or protected.”

Maryland’s Secretary of Health Dennis Schrader said Saturday in a subsequent interview that the Health Department conducted antibody studies at nursing homes early in the pandemic. They found compelling evidence concerning the longevity of immunity.

“What we’re realizing is that the immunity wanes and the only way we’re going to allow people to keep the immunity up is to get the booster shot,” Schrader said. “So, it’s really focused on maintaining immunity.”

Hogan called the impromptu press conference to update Marylanders on the Covid-19 pandemic in light of Omicron, the new variant recently discovered in South Africa.

During the question session following Hogan’s prepared remarks, one reporter asked the governor if discussions were ongoing concerning boosters determining whether a Marylander was considered fully vaccinated or if they would wait for CDC guidance.

“No, I mentioned that in my remarks,” Hogan said. “We’re trying to … maybe I’ll let the secretary jump in here and say a few words. Our efforts, it’s a major part of our efforts, is convincing people. You know we’ve gotten most people vaccinated.

"I’ve mentioned one-tenth of 1% of our seniors are left and 11% of the rest of our people and that’s fantastic. But we don’t have - we’ve only done a million boosters. A million boosters is a lot. We’re one of the most boosted in the country. But it’s not enough.”

Hogan expressed some frustration that people seem to live in “a kind of false sense of security,” believing they are protected with the two shots, but the vaccines are only 50% effective after six months.

Schrader set the interval between eight to nine months and said the level of protection would depend on an individual’s underlying conditions and immune system. The health official continued with observations about the existing conditions of Maryland’s cases and deaths.

“So, we’re seeing about a third of the new infections are people who have been vaccinated. However, they’re not getting sick and in the hospital, or they’re not dying, which is important,” Schrader said. “But if I look at many, many, many of the death reports and it’s unvaccinated people or people who were vaccinated and it’s now eight months, nine months.”

Gov. Hogan's advice: “So if you really want to be safe while you’re traveling and being with family, get the booster.”

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