BALTIMORE, MD. (WJZ) — This week, Maryland health officials said the state pushed past a major milestone.

According to the health department, more than 80 percent of people 12 and older now have at least one COVID-19 vaccine shot. But both private and public entities are making an effort to get even more people vaccinated.

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The National Aquarium will offer free tickets on Friday and Saturday ahead of the Labor Day weekend for anyone who gets a vaccination at their site. The effort was in collaboration with the Baltimore City Health Department.

“The National Aquarium believes that COVID-19 vaccinations are the number one defense against this pandemic and we’re here to be good partners with the city health department as they attempt to get as many people vaccinated as possible,” said Jennifer Driban with the National Aquarium.

Places of worship are also trying to dispel misinformation about the vaccine. A group of pastors gathered near E. Fayette St. in Baltimore on Friday to share information about the virus and vaccines.

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“Trying to get folks to understand some of the facts related to the vaccines, to deal with some of the phobias and to help them make an informed decision,” said Mark McCleary with Liberty Seventh Day Adventist Church.

According to the Maryland Health Department, more than 3.7 million Marylanders are fully vaccinated. Howard County officials say the county was the first in the state where 70 percent of the entire population is fully vaccinated, but they are still trying to get more people on board.

“Getting the vaccine now is your best protection against severe illness and death from the virus. It keeps us all from missing work, school, staying out of the hospital and missing other very important events in our lives,” said Dr. Maura Rossman the county’s health officer.

During its weekly COVID-19 briefing, Johns Hopkins experts said more people are getting vaccinated nationwide but there’s also a reality check because daily caseloads are higher now than what we saw in June.

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“I do have to say we should not be overly reassured,” said Dr. Jennifer Nuzzo, an epidemiologist. “Obviously we will take any glimmer of good news we could get, but it should not lead to complacency, because we are still in very serious circumstances.”

Ava-joye Burnett