PORTLAND, Maine — During Governor Janet Mills' announcement Thursday expanding COVID-19 vaccine eligibility to Maine people ages 16 and older starting Wednesday, April 7, state leaders also mentioned several other developments that affect the vaccine rollout.
1. Maine is sending doses directly to providers of high-risk patients
If you have an underlying condition or a disability, reach out to your health care provider. They may have received doses of the vaccine for their higher-risk patients.
Maine is sending doses to cancer treatment programs associated with hospitals, dialysis centers, and more. The federal government could send more doses directly to those locations, too, according to Maine CDC spokesperson Robert Long.
You can find that list location receiving doses here.
"The federal government has not provided information on which cancer and dialysis centers in Maine could expect to receive direct vaccine allocations," he wrote in an e-mail.
DHHS Commissioner Jeanne Lambrew said Maine's Office of Aging and Disability Services is also reaching out to parents of adults with developmental disabilities to help them get the shot.
"There's many different ways that we can ensure that while we're moving into this new eligibility group we do so in a way that we're not leaving behind people who have high medical risk or disabilities or other challenges getting a vaccine," Lambrew said during Thursday's briefing.
2. The federal government is planning to activate all retail pharmacy chains, according to Maine CDC Director Dr. Nirav Shah
This means many more locations for people to get appointments because of the increased supply of doses from the feds.
On April 1, President Biden's directive to retail pharmacies to prioritize school staff, educators, or child care providers ended.
"I don't have any further details as to when that will go forth, but we understand that's being activated on the federal side," Dr. Shah said.
3. Maine is getting a big increase in Johnson & Johnson doses
Maine will receive 20,600 doses of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine for the week of April 5, compared to 8,100 doses it received for the week of March 29.
3,500 of those doses are going to Public Safety locations for drive-thru or drive-up style clinics. Because J&J is one dose and does not require ultra-cold storage like the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines, more places and people can administer it.
"The Johnson and Johnson vaccine, in that respect, is a big step forward for us," said Dr. Shah. "We were overjoyed to see it."