President Joe Biden holds up a bracelet as he speaks during a virtual meeting with Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador in the Roosevelt Room of the White House, Monday, March 1, 2021, in Washington. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

WASHINGTON — U.S. Sen. Chris Van Hollen, D-Md., is asking the Biden administration to shift the COVID-19 mass vaccination push to first doses.

Van Hollen and U.S. Sen. Martin Heinrich, D-N.M., have written the White House asking for a federal focus on first doses.

“As a threat rises from new disease variants, we write to request your consideration of a new strategy to maximize the population receiving the COVID-19 vaccine in the near term,” Van Hollen and Heinrich say in a March 1 letter. “We encourage you to explore deploying existing second doses as first doses and rely on growing real-time inventory to cover future follow-on booster shots.” 

Van Hollen’s letter to the Biden administration comes after U.S. Rep. Andy Harris, R-Md.-1st, made a similar request for Gov. Larry Hogan to focus the state’s coronavirus on first doses.

The Democratic senators said they still favor second doses. 

“The second dose remains a critical step in the vaccination process, providing an important boost in neutralizing antibodies that bolster immunity and protect against COVID-19. We are not advocating for solely a single-dose regimen. Rather, we believe deploying existing second doses to cover more first doses—coupled with using real-time inventory in the coming weeks to serve as boost doses—would be the most societally beneficial choice and mitigate severe illness, hospitalization, and death,” Heinrich and Van Hollen said in their White House letter.

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