Maryland's acting health secretary is defending the state's decision to expand eligibility for the coronavirus vaccine to adults who are 65 and older.
Acting Secretary Dennis R. Schrader said Monday that the change was made to address racial disparities in life expectancy. He said that populations that are 75 and older tend to be more dominated by Caucasians.
The Baltimore Sun reports that Schrader offered the explanation on Monday to state senators during a virtual Vaccine Oversight Workgroup committee meeting. Maryland's leaders and health officials continue to face questions about the vaccine rollout.
Maryland had expanded vaccine eligibility on Jan. 18 to include adults 75 and older. A week later, they made people 65 and older eligible.
The vaccinated population in D.C. may be overestimated in this map because some non-residents who work in D.C. are included in the totals.
Many had criticized the state's decision to add more people into the vaccine eligibility pool while supplies nationwide remained limited. And some said it forced vaccine providers to make tough decisions about who to prioritize for shots.
“Although we are focused definitely on 75-plus, we moved into 65-plus, and from an equity perspective, I think it’s an important thing — although it did add more people and it made it harder for us,” Schrader said. “But we felt it was worth it because of that.”