ANNAPOLIS, MD—As the State of Maryland continues to prioritize reducing COVID-19 hospitalizations and deaths among the most vulnerable residents, Governor Larry Hogan on Wednesday announced new vaccination protocols for all nursing home and hospital staff.
Effective immediately, all employees of the state’s 227 nursing homes and all employees of Maryland hospitals will be required to show proof of vaccination, or adhere to ongoing COVID-19 screening and testing.
“We are concerned that the Delta variant surge has led to an increase in infections among nursing home staff, which has been a consistent source of the outbreaks in these facilities,” said Governor Hogan. “Our main focus has always been, and continues to be, reducing hospitalizations and deaths, particularly among our most vulnerable Marylanders.”
Employees of Maryland nursing homes will need to receive their first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine by September 1st. Nursing homes that fail to comply with the new vaccination protocols or to report their vaccination data will be subject to increased fines, civil penalties, and enforcement actions.
Employees of hospitals statewide will also need to receive their first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine by September 1st. Many of the state’s largest hospital systems, including the University of Maryland Medical System, Johns Hopkins Medicine, MedStar, and GBMC Healthcare, have already mandated vaccines for staff.
Following authorization by the FDA and CDC, state health officials have partnered with providers across the state to ensure that booster shots are immediately available for immunocompromised Marylanders. No prescription or doctor’s order is needed to acquire a third vaccine dose.
Governor Hogan Calls On Federal Administration To Take The Following Actions:
- Make Booster Shots Available Immediately For Seniors And Vulnerable Populations. Following this morning’s announcement by federal health officials that boosters will not be made more widely available until late September, Governor Hogan called on the federal government to make booster shots available immediately for seniors and other vulnerable populations.
- Advance Full FDA Approval Of Vaccines. Governor Hogan pressed for full FDA approval of the COVID-19 vaccines, which remains the most significant hurdle to reaching those who are still hesitant about getting vaccinated. Full approval would be a significant boost to the state’s vaccine distribution operation.
- Expedite Approval of Vaccines For 5- To 11-Year-Olds. With more and more children heading back to school, the governor also urged federal officials to expedite approval for 5- to 11-year-olds to begin receiving COVID-19 vaccines. Governors have been told that approval is currently months away.
“Governors across the country have become increasingly frustrated with the confusing messaging and conflicting guidance from the White House and federal government agencies regarding booster shots for the wider population,” said Governor Hogan. “This is one of a number of areas where we are pressing the Biden administration for action.”
In preparation for booster shots being made more widely available, Governor Hogan announced the launch of a new statewide antibody testing program for nursing home residents to ascertain their levels of immunity. The pilot program will begin with 500 residents across the state and will provide critical data regarding the need for booster shots.
State health officials are strongly recommending monoclonal antibodies—which have proven to be effective against the Delta variant—for patients with mild to moderate symptoms of COVID-19. Thousands of Marylanders have already been given monoclonal antibody therapy at dozens of hospitals and facilities across the state, and it has helped prevent hundreds of hospitalizations and deaths.
Video from Wednesday’s press conference can be viewed below.