AUGUSTA, Maine — The Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) placed another order for doses of COVID-19 vaccine Friday, for 17,175 people, to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Operation Warp Speed.
This order for the fifth week of vaccine distribution represents the latest 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 available to Maine for new vaccines. Maine CDC's order, expected to arrive early next week, will comprise 8,775 doses from Pfizer and 8,400 doses from Moderna for the fifth week of distribution. The total is 100 more doses than last week’s allocation.
During Firday's coronavirus briefing, Maine CDC Director Dr. Nirav Shah was candid in saying they had wished for increases in volume, and said, "but it appears the volume will be flat."
Vaccination sites have begun to receive and administer the second dose of the Pfizer vaccine for individuals vaccinated in the first weeks of distribution, which started on Dec. 14.
Combined with the previous orders, Maine expects to have enough to vaccinate approximately 99,025 people in the first five weeks of distribution.
Shah says this puts the state squarely still within phase 1A of the state's distribution plan, which is comprised of roughly 130,000 people. By the end of next week, the state will still have received vaccine sufficient only for roughly 75 percent of that entire group.
Shah said, however, "we are making strides."
On Wednesday and Thursday, over 4,200 vaccinations were reported to Maine CDC—a pace Shah says they hope will not just continue, but continue to increase.
Shah makes clear that like much with COVID-19, these snapshots are moving targets. The trends are what matters.
"And here, the trends are encouraging," Shah said.
"Earlier this week on Jan. 4 and 5," Shah explains, "there were roughly 2,100-2,500 doses per day that were being reported to us as administered. And now in the recent 48 hours, that number has continued to increase. The slope of that line is going up, and for the first time in a long time in this pandemic, we're in a situation where an upward sloping trend line on a chart is finally a good thing."
Since COVID-19 vaccination began in Maine on December 15, 46,633 doses of COVID-19 vaccine have been given to health care workers and long-term care residents, including 43,362 first doses and 3,271 second doses. This means 40,091 people in Maine have received the vaccine as of 2:20 p.m. Friday.
Maine has vaccinated the eighth highest percent of its population of all states to date, according to the U.S. CDC.
"We encourage all eligible health care workers to get a vaccine when you have the opportunity to do so," Maine Department of Health and Human Services Commissioner Jeanne Lambrew said. "Today's order, while less than we hoped for, allows even more health care personnel to get protected against this contagious disease."
"Maine Immunization Program staff, supported by others at the Maine CDC, are working tirelessly to make doses available as soon as they arrive in Maine," Maine CDC Director Dr. Nirav Shah said. "Velocity and equity continue to guide the state’s vaccination plan."
Maine’s vaccine planning generally aligns with the recommendations of the U.S. CDC Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP), according to Maine DHHS. Maine has prioritized its limited supply of vaccine for health care personnel and residents of skilled nursing and long-term care facilities under Phase 1a. While the federal government controls the state’s vaccine supply, Maine CDC continues to work with partners throughout the state to vaccinate as many Maine people on the front lines of the pandemic as quickly as possible. The goal remains to provide vaccine by February to all health care personnel and long-term care residents in Phase 1a.
Physicians, nurses, and similar health care providers who practice outside of hospitals and provide acute care are now being vaccinated. In coordination with Maine CDC and DHHS, professional associations in Maine, including the Maine Medical Association (MMA) and Maine Osteopathic Association (MOA), have engaged independent member practices to assess the number and location of patient-facing clinicians and staff to vaccinate. In addition, a number of health systems, community hospitals, federally qualified health centers (FQHCs), and larger independent physician locations have begun to reach out to community physicians. With this needs assessment, the MMA and MOA can help connect patient-facing personnel with sites able to vaccinate them. According to Maine DHHS, this process should provide access to COVID-19 vaccines for ambulatory physicians, nurses, and their patient-facing staff over the coming weeks, recognizing that this will depend on the supply of vaccine Maine receives from the federal government as well as the rate of immunizations at vaccination sites.
In the fifth week of distribution, shipments of 17,175 doses of vaccine will be sent to hospitals (7,700), outpatient groups (1,500), emergency medical services (400), the retail pharmacy long-term care program (4,875), organizations helping to vaccine people in long-term care facilities not in the retail pharmacy program (2,500), and home health and hospice agencies (200).
The retail pharmacy program is operated the U.S. CDC. Maine DHHS allocates doses to the program but does not play a direct role in distribution of those vaccines to long-term care facilities.
Information on how health care personnel can find out about when and how they can be vaccinated is posted at www.maine.gov/covid19/vaccines.
Maine's planning for COVID-19 vaccine distribution began in spring 2020. The vaccine distribution framework will continue to evolve with the changing vaccine supply and continued input from health care providers and various communities throughout Maine, according to Maine DHHS.