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Maine formally submits request to federal government for first COVID-19 vaccines

The initial allocation will be administered to frontline health care professionals, as well as residents of skilled nursing and long-term care facilities.

AUGUSTA, Maine — The Maine Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) announced Friday that the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention (Maine CDC) has placed orders for doses of COVID-19 vaccine for 12,675 people to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Operation Warp Speed. This order represents the first in a series of vaccine requests that Maine CDC will file in the coming weeks and months, as specified by Operation Warp Speed, as part of Maine’s accessible, flexible, and equitable distribution plan for the vaccine.

Maine CDC’s order reflects the maximum number of doses that the federal government recently informed Maine would be available in the first allocation. When fulfilled, the order will be enough to vaccinate approximately 12,675 people with the first of two required doses. The federal government originally estimated that Maine would receive 36,000 doses in the initial allotment, nearly three times more than the amount now expected. However, the Mills administration was informed that Pfizer reduced the number of vaccines it expects to ship worldwide, including to Maine, due to supply chain challenges. The company also extended the schedule for shipping vaccine doses over a longer period.

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Maine CDC expects the initial allocation to be composed of doses from Pfizer, which will require ultra-cold storage. After the initial allocation, which Operation Warp Speed leaders said could arrive as soon as mid-December, Maine CDC has been told to expect two more weekly allocations of 12,675 doses of the Pfizer vaccine, and approximately 24,200 doses for the first week and 10,700 doses for the second week of the vaccine created by Moderna, pending FDA authorization.

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Per guidelines approved by the U.S. CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices, the initial allocation will be administered to frontline health care professionals, as well as residents of skilled nursing and long-term care facilities. The first shipments of Pfizer vaccine will be sent to six locations with ultra-cold freezer capacity throughout Maine. The following locations will receive 975 doses each:

  • Maine Medical Center in Portland
  • Northern Light Mercy Hospital in Portland
  • Northern Light Eastern Maine Medical Center in Bangor
  • Central Maine Medical Center in Lewiston
  • Northern Light A. R. Gould Hospital in Presque Isle
  • Maine CDC

The remaining 6,825 doses will be administered to residents of long-term care facilities in Maine, through a collaborative agreement with elder care facilities and pharmacies.

“We look forward to FDA authorization of the vaccine as we await the initial doses,” DHHS Commissioner Jeanne Lambrew said. “We thank Maine’s congressional delegation for their collaboration and their support for additional federal funding that will be vital to the success of this monumental undertaking to protect the health of Maine people.”

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“This is a significant step, but placing the order is not the same as having the vaccine in hand,” Maine CDC Director Dr. Nirav Shah said. “We are confident that Maine CDC will receive these doses and are in position to administer them to the highest priority recipients, such as health care providers and residents of long-term care facilities. As we await potential FDA authorization, we are continuing our planning process and remain committed to efficient and equitable distribution of the vaccine.”

Maine's planning for COVID-19 vaccine distribution began in spring 2020, building on the existing network of vaccine providers throughout the state. In October, Maine CDC submitted the first version of its plan to distribute a COVID-19 vaccine. Maine will update the plan as more is learned about vaccine manufacturing, storage, efficacy in different groups, dosing schedules, as well as other factors that will affect the implementation of vaccination on a large scale. The vaccine distribution framework will also evolve with continued input from health care providers and various communities throughout Maine.