COLUMBIA (WJZ) — Gov. Larry Hogan is trying to convince younger people to get the Covid-19 vaccine. 

On Thursday, he got a firsthand look at the Mall in Columbia mass vaccination site at the old Lord & Taylor store. He told reporters many Marylanders in their 20s and 30s feel they are not vulnerable to the virus and still need to get vaccinated. 

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“20s and 30s is where our weak spot is. People are just like, ‘I don’t think I need it. I’m strong and healthy.’ Let me tell you, we have strong, young, healthy people being hospitalized every day even with our improving numbers. These variants are still deadly. They’re impacting younger people,” Hogan said. “The people who think they don’t need it are wrong. They need to come out and get vaccinated,” he said. 

Kevin Johnson, 20, was vaccinated at the mall as the governor wrapped up his visit. Johnson said he had no hesitation about getting the shot and others his age should get it too.

“I’m looking forward to the future where we’ll be able to do stuff like go to concerts or just be together without masks again,” Johnson said.

 

Howard County Executive Calvin Ball called the mall site “perfectly positioned between Baltimore and the DC suburbs.”

The state stopped requiring appointments at all mass vaccination sites this week and saw almost 1,000 walk-ins on the first day of that change. 

Maryland also has surpassed 5 million total vaccinations.

Hogan said eventually the state’s 13 mass vaccination sites will wind down operations.

“The need for the big ones is not going to go on forever, but we’re going to keep them open as long as we still have some customers,” he said.

He also said – at this point – the state was not going to provide any other financial incentives to get the shots beyond $100 payments to state employees, but he still encourages private businesses to do so. 

Hogan also announced Project Bounce Back at a Boys and Girls Club in West Baltimore. $25 million would go to help children recover from the pandemic, including 6 regional crisis teams that would help children with counseling and other assistance, he said.

The state is also partnering with Boys & Girls Clubs statewide to assist with after-school programs and support.

The Hogan administration anticipates vaccines will soon be approved for children 12 and older. State Schools Superintendent Karen Salmon demanded students return to the classroom in person as quickly as possible.

“Many students who once excelled are now failing. Children are overwhelmed, anxious and depressed. The most immediate, ready solution to protect children—as the governor said—is to return them to schools for full, in-person learning as soon as possible,” she said. 

She stressed only 43% of Maryland’s pre-K through 12th-grade students have received any in-person instruction this year.

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“Sadly, too many students have yet to access a normal classroom learning experience,” Salmon said.