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Maryland to open eligibility to all at mass vaccination sites

Maryland to open eligibility to all at mass vaccination sites
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Maryland will expand eligibility for coronavirus vaccinations to all adults over the age of 16 effective Tuesday, but initially only at the state's mass vaccination sites, Gov. Larry Hogan (R) said Monday.

Beginning next Monday, April 12, all eligible Marylanders will be able to get a vaccine from any provider, Hogan said. 

Teenagers aged 16 and 17 will only be able to get appointments at sites that use Pfizer's vaccine, because it is the only one of the three vaccines on the U.S. market authorized for children under age 18.

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Hogan said the state wants to get young people vaccinated quickly because he is seeing increased hospitalizations among people in their 20s, 30s and 40s. 

"Younger people sometimes felt they were bulletproof, or they didn't have to worry about it, but now we're seeing they really do need to worry about it," he said.

The pace of shots has been increasing, and Hogan said more than 42 percent of all state residents, and more than 76 percent of people over age 65, have at least one dose of a vaccine. Hogan said the state has been able to move more quickly because supply has increased.

Hogan previously said that all Marylanders age 16 and over could get shots starting April 27.

The governor stressed that even though everyone will be eligible, they may not get an appointment immediately. Still, he said as supply continues to increase over the next month, doses should become available to everyone who wants one.  

The Biden administration had set a goal of making vaccines available to all U.S. adults who want one by May 1.   

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New cases have also been increasing throughout the state, which Hogan attributed mainly to travel for spring break and indoor family gatherings among the unvaccinated. The state's seven-day average positivity rate is above 5 percent. 

While the state has lifted many of the capacity restrictions on bars and restaurants, Hogan said reopenings don't seem to have contributed to the increase, and noted the mask mandate is still in effect.

According to the New York Times COVID tracker, Maryland cases have increased 41 percent over the past 14 days.

There were 859 total cases reported Monday in Maryland, bringing to total to more than 418,000 cases, according to the state health department.