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Maine CDC: Do not call your local public safety departments to ask about COVID-19 vaccine

Maine CDC Director Dr. Nirav Shah said that while these calls are likely being made with good intentions, they are misguided.

AUGUSTA, Maine — NEWS CENTER Maine has received reports from public safety agencies, such as fire departments and police departments, that people are calling and asking about the vaccine. On Wednesday, Maine CDC Director Dr. Nirav Shah said Maine CDC has received similar calls. He said that while these calls are likely being made with good intentions, they are misguided. Unless you are a healthcare worker or have preexisting conditions, it may be many months until there is enough vaccine available nationally to vaccinate everyone who wants it.

"It's uplifting and heartening that so many folks across Maine are calling and seeking more information about the vaccine, as well as when they can get vaccinated," Shah said. "Right now, unless you are a healthcare provider who works for example in an emergency room or an ICU or in a COVID unit, it may be many many months before there is enough vaccine available nationally in order for us to be offering vaccine to folks who don't have other preexisting health conditions or folks who don't work in a healthcare setting."

"Right now I don't advise and in fact ask everyone not to call your local public safety, not to call your local fire rescue or EMS agency," he added. "Those phone lines we're really hoping can stay open for first response and emergency purposes. Vaccine will be made available to the general public, but it may be many many months away."

RELATED: First doses of COVID-19 vaccine administered to Maine frontline health care workers

Shah encourages Mainers to stay informed and up to date, so that they can know when a vaccine may soon be available to them.

"The best thing you can do right now is to stay up to date on where things stand with the vaccine," he said. "Keep on top of which vaccines have been approved, what the numbers are looking like, and tune into these outlets, like the Maine CDC's briefings, so we can keep you up to date on when vaccine might be coming your way."

On Tuesday at 9 a.m., a MaineHealth registered nurse became the first Mainer to receive the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine. She is one of 150 MaineHealth caregivers was vaccinated Tuesday at Maine Medical Center in Portland and Southern Maine Health Care in Biddeford.

MaineHealth, the region’s largest integrated health system, is set to receive an initial allotment of 1,900 doses of the vaccine made by Pfizer during the first week of distribution.

On Wednesday, vaccinations started at a third MaineHealth hospital, Mid Coast-Parkview Health in Brunswick. Those three southern Maine hospitals have treated the most COVID-19 patients during the pandemic within MaineHealth and were prioritized for the first doses for that reason.

MaineHealth officials say initially, distribution will focus on Intensive Care Unit teams, front-line Emergency Department caregivers, those providing care in dedicated COVID-19 inpatient units, and other critical and essential inpatient services not available elsewhere.