BALTIMORE (WJZ) — Maryland’s Vaccine Equity Task Force and MedStar Health teamed up to administer vaccines to members of Maryland’s horse racing community ahead of this weekend’s Preakness Stakes.

The effort comes amid encouraging COVID metrics statewide and officials are crediting vaccines.

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“We still have a ways to go. We are looking forward to when the Pfizer vaccine is approved for kids down to age 12,” Maryland’s Deputy Secretary for Public Health Services, Dr. Jinlene Chan said Monday at Pimlico Race Course.

On Monday, the FDA, announced just that, authorizing the emergency use of the Pfizer vaccine to include ages 12 through 15.

More than five million Marylanders have received at least one dose of a vaccine, according to the Maryland Department of Health. Maryland’s top-line COVID metrics continue to trend downward. The state’s case rate is down 83% from its January peak.

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“It’s hard for me to tell my guys to get vaccinated when I’m not vaccinated and they need to do it,” assistant horse trainer Nicholas DiLodovico said after receiving his first Moderna dose Monday.

At Pimlico Race Course and Laurel Park Monday, dozens in the horse industry received shots.

“Our workers were here the entire pandemic. They never missed a day of work,” Dr. Kelly Ryan, a primary care physician with MedStar Health said.

Another vaccine clinic will return to administer second doses on June 7.

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Paul Gessler