ANNAPOLIS, Maryland – While many jurisdictions have moved forward and focus on COVID-19 booster injections in the fight to end the pandemic, rural western counties are far behind most of the state for the number of residents who received at least one dose of a vaccine.
Meanwhile, the two westernmost counties also have the highest case rates in Maryland, as well as more COVID-19 hospital patients than most other jurisdictions.
“Rural hospitals are disproportionately affected by the coronavirus,” Dr Ted Delbridge, executive director of the Maryland Institute for Emergency Medical Services Systems, said Thursday of areas such as western Maryland where a lower proportion of residents requested vaccination against COVID-19.
“Without a doubt, it is not a coincidence,” he said.
Delbridge was at a press conference with Governor Larry Hogan and Maryland Secretary of Health Dennis Schrader to provide a COVID-19 update.
âOverall, 10% of patients in acute care hospital beds have COVID-19, as do 22% of patients in intensive care units,â Delbridge said. âIn fact, one in four COVID-19 patients in a hospital is in an intensive care unit. “
He also spoke about the mild flu season last year, when disease mitigation practices were in full force.
Now people “are definitely back,” Delbridge said of people who are less likely to wear masks.
“We are already seeing more and more people with an assortment of respiratory illnesses seeking medical attention,” he said.
Medical workers “are just fed up with going over 100% for so long,” Delbridge said. âHospital staffing is a challenge that reduces flexibility to accommodate new increases in patients. “
People should ask themselves, âWhat can I do? ” he said.
âFirst and foremost, if you haven’t been vaccinated against COVID-19, please do,â Delbridge said. “This problem will not go away without you.”
In addition, more than a third of people who contract COVID-19 end up with long-term health effects, he said.
âThe vaccines are exceptionally safe and effective,â Delbridge said. “I wouldn’t have bought one myself, or I wouldn’t have made sure my family did if I didn’t believe it.”
Hogan spoke about COVID-19 recall eligibility.
âTo determine your eligibility for a COVID-19 booster, the easiest thing to do is look at your vaccination record,â he said.
“If you received your second dose of Pfizer vaccine at least six months ago, that is on March 30 or earlier, you may be eligible for one of the currently approved categories, which are all people 65 years of age and over, all people 18 years of age and over with underlying health. conditions, and all persons 18 years of age and over whose occupation puts them at increased risk, including first responders, healthcare workers, and transit and grocery store workers, âHogan said.
âIf, like me, your vaccination record shows that you have received a Moderna COVID-19 vaccine and are immunocompromised, you are also eligible for a booster,â he said. “However, there is still no endorsement or guidance on Moderna boosters for the general population, although the White House informed us this week that this is expected shortly.”
No federal guidance has been issued for those who have received the Johnson & Johnson single-dose vaccine, Hogan said.