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By the end of the month, children ages 5 to 11 may no longer be too young for covid vaccines.

Heather Snyder, the infection prevention manager at Atlantic General Hospital, said in an email this week that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has announced a potential Oct. 26 meeting to review the request to vaccinate the younger age group with Pfizer shots.

“They are publicly sharing that a decision may be reached, based on this meeting, by the end of this month,” Snyder said. “Atlantic General Hospital is having internal discussions to prepare a strategy to support our community, should this request be approved.”

Right now, anyone 12 and older is eligible for a covid vaccine, and boosters are available for select groups of people who received vaccines during the early stages of their release.

For months, lawmakers across the country, including Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan, have been pushing federal officials to put the squeeze on the health industry to roll out vaccines for younger individuals. The urgency comes as most children are back in school and learning in-person, and concerns over the virus spreading, despite mask mandates, among those unprotected by vaccines runs rampant.

At Atlantic General, Snyder said staff members have begun discussing how to make vaccines available for 5 to 11 year-olds when/if the shots are approved.

“Our goal will be to ensure equitable access throughout the community we serve,” she said.

Vaccine numbers and info:

  • As of Thursday, Maryland providers administered more than 8.12 million covid-19 vaccines for a total of 84.7 percent of residents with at least one dose.
  • Hospital staff at Atlantic General have administered 12,175 covid vaccines as of Wednesday.
  • According to the Worcester County Health Department, 71.3 percent of the county’s population was fully vaccinated as of Wednesday.
  • Atlantic General staff members administered 134 shots since last week.
  • As of Wednesday, 90 percent of AGH staff members had received at least one dose of the vaccine.
  • Atlantic General Hospital hosts vaccine clinics from 9:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., Monday through Friday, at its pharmacy in the main lobby of the hospital. All three types of vaccines are offered.
  • The Worcester County Health Department holds vaccine clinics weekly. For information about them, visit www.worcesterhealth.org/protect-menu/1726-worcester-county,-md-coronavirus-covid-19-information-2020

Covid case numbers:

  • As of Thursday, Worcester County’s covid-19 positivity rate was 7.06 percent, a decrease from 8.18 percent last week. Posting the highest positivity rate in the state was Garrett County at 15.15 percent.
  • The state’s positivity rate was 3.8 percent Thursday.
  • Also as of Thursday, Maryland reported 547,675 confirmed covid cases.
  • Worcester County confirmed 105 new cases since last week, bringing the total cases since March 2020 to 4,889.
  • Atlantic General Hospital reported 11 covid in-patients this week, three of whom are fully vaccinated. The age range of the patients is between 67 and 88. Hospital officials said some of the patients were admitted for covid and no longer considered contagious but require extended hospitalization for ongoing treatment.
  • Ocean Pines and Berlin had 1,889 cases and Ocean City had 1,238 Thursday.
  • Worcester County has reported 115 covid deaths since March 2020.
  • According to the state health department website, as of Wednesday, 66 people in Worcester County schools — both public and private — were positive for covid. Broken down, Snow Hill Middle School had 24 cases, Showell Elementary had 19, Seaside Christine Academy had 10, Pocomoke Elementary had seven and Buckingham Elementary had six. Worcester County Public Schools has also revealed a new dashboard tracking system for cases and outbreaks, found at www.worcesterk12.org/cms/One.aspx?portalId=577441&pageId=9819826

*Info from Gov. Larry Hogan; the Maryland Department of Health; Atlantic General; Worcester County Health Department; and the CDC.*

This story appears in the print version of the Ocean City Today on Oct. 15.

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