Montgomery Co. leads in booster doses, pediatric vaccinations; 1st ‘test-to-stay’ pilot launched

Already one of the most vaccinated counties in Maryland, the county has delivered more than 182,000 booster doses, which is the most in the state, according to data presented by officials Wednesday at a weekly media briefing.

Montgomery County, Maryland, continues to lead the way in booster doses for COVID-19 vaccines and pediatric vaccinations.

Already one of the most vaccinated counties in Maryland, the county has delivered more than 182,000 booster doses, which is the most in the state, according to data presented by officials Wednesday at a weekly media briefing.

During the briefing, officials also discussed efforts to administer pediatric vaccine doses and the pilot rollout of a “test-to-stay” program aimed at keeping public school students out of large-scale quarantines.

Baltimore City residents are the second most stimulated in the state — 122,000 additional doses have been administered to residents there. More than 89,000 additional doses have been administered in Prince George’s County.

Earlier this week, the state reported a total of more than 861,000 booster shots. Nearly half of the state’s eligible seniors have received a booster shot.

The data on booster shots administered so far comes a few days after federal health officials approved booster COVID-19 shots for all adults.

According to data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 91.7% of the county’s total population has now received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine.

County health officials estimate that about 30% of the approximately 100,000 children ages 5 to 11 in the county received their first dose of the special pediatric version of the Pfizer vaccine.

The county remains the largest supplier of pediatric vaccines, accounting for 45% of the pediatric doses administered by all suppliers in the county, according to the county’s acting health officer Dr. James Bridgers.

The doctor’s offices in the province have administered 27% of pediatric vaccinations to date; pharmacies administered 23% of the injections; Community nonprofits account for 3% of injections and hospitals account for 2%.

County Executive Marc Elrich and other county officials thanked the Department of Health for sending an additional 5,000 pediatric doses to the health department — a total of 12,000 for the county health department’s weekly allocation.

Last week, provincial officials said they had nearly used up their supply of pediatric doses and were concerned about doses in pharmacies and hospitals potentially going unused.

‘Test-to-stay’ is launched

Also this week, the county launched a first pilot of its much-anticipated “test-to-stay” program to reduce the number of students in Montgomery County Public Schools in major quarantines.

Earl Stoddard, the county’s deputy director, said the program kicked off Monday with a quick test of students in a classroom he didn’t identify for privacy reasons.

He acknowledged that the program starts out small — the class size was less than 10 students — but they were all able to stay in school after a potential exposure rather than quarantine.

But Montgomery County is now the first school system in Maryland to roll out the program, and officials say it will expand eventually.

“It won’t be zero to 60 miles per hour,” Stoddard said. “It will be a gradual escalation over time with more classrooms identified, but we have the capacity.”

The program, which allows students exposed to confirmed positive COVID-19 cases to remain in the classroom as long as they continue to test negative during a daily rapid COVID-19 testing regimen.

The rollout of the program was delayed by slow hiring of staff to run the rapid tests, then was put on hold as the county brought the program into line with government guidelines.

“It’s been slower than we would have liked — including, I’m sure our parents, as I’ve heard from many of them — but it’s clear we’re making progress and we want to keep expanding that program forward,” Stoddard said.

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