EASTON — U.S. Rep. Andy Harris, R-Md-1st, wants Maryland to use all its available COVID vaccines for first doses.
Harris is a medical doctor who represents the Eastern Shore and areas north of Baltimore.
Putting the vaccination focus on single doses will help with efforts to get the U.S. to “herd immunity” with the coronavirus, Harris said Friday.
Harris, a practicing anesthesiologist on the Shore, has written Gov. Larry Hogan asking for COVID vaccines earmarked for second doses to be allocated for first-time recipients.
Maryland has distributed 1.26 million COVID vaccine doses overall with close to 750,000 of those first doses and 510,000 second doses. The Eastern Shore congressman points to recent research in The Lancet and New England Journal of Medicine that found a single dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine is up to 90% effective two to four weeks after administration and there is similar efficacy for Moderna’s COVID vaccine.
Harris said the United Kingdom has moved toward a first dose focus and he expects other countries to take that approach.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control has recently updated vaccination guidance saying up to 42 days can pass between doses. The CDC previously recommended a second vaccine in half that time, according to Harris.
The COVID vaccines are of the mRNA variety injecting genetic material that results in an immune response to fight the virus.
Harris cites the medical research in his vaccination request to Hogan on Friday, Feb. 19.
“Based on these new data publications, it would appear to indicate that a single dose of a mRNA vaccine will provide nearly as much protection against COVID-19 infection as the current two dose regime,” Harris said. “Provided this new information, and the current scarcity of vaccines for our most vulnerable populations, I ask that you immediately consider revising the State’s vaccine administration guidelines to account for this updated data, and begin to more widely administer a single dose of both the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna mRNA vaccines, until all vulnerable and essential populations are inoculated.”
COVID vaccination efforts have been challenged in Maryland and nationally by supply issues, winter weather that has closed some vaccine sites, “anti-vax’ sentiments and continued hesitancy among some to get the quickly developed vaccines.
The state continues to open mass vaccination centers and has an ongoing advertising campaign to promote COVID-19 vaccines.