AUGUSTA, Maine — For the 19th week of distribution, the state is expected to receive 36,460 first doses of Pfizer and Moderna vaccines, according to the Maine Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS). This represents just a slight increase in Moderna and Pfizer doses compared to what the state received this week, but all in all represents a loss of about 230 total doses as the Johnson & Johnson vaccine pause continues nationwide.
Maine will receive:
- 21,060 doses of Pfizer vaccine
- 15,400 doses of Moderna vaccine
This does not include the doses sent directly from the federal government to retail pharmacies and clinics, which are typically announced over the weekend. Additionally, vaccination sites continue to receive and administer the second dose for individuals vaccinated with the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines through a separate distribution process, Maine DHHS said in a release.
The 36,460 total first doses, which will be for the week starting April 19, will be sent to:
- Hospitals (30,990)
- Outpatient providers including the mobile vaccine unit (5,070)
- Independent pharmacies
- Public health nurses (400)
As of Wednesday, 48.05 percent of eligible Mainers had received at least a first dose, while 35.96 percent had completed their vaccination series.
Last week, the state received 2,500 doses of the J&J single-shot vaccine. On Tuesday, the U.S. CDC and FDA recommended states "pause" administering the J&J vaccine to investigate reports of potentially dangerous blood clots. Health officials recommended the J&J timeout in part to make sure doctors know how to recognize and treat the unusual condition.
U.S. health officials are weighing the next steps as they investigate six cases of unusual blood clots in people who received J&J's vaccine. U.S. health advisers say they will be looking for more data on the rare clots before they decide on the next steps.
In response to the pause, first doses of Moderna and Pfizer vaccines were redirected to vaccination sites, including the new mobile vaccination unit that launched Monday in Oxford.
The change presents challenges for certain vaccine sites, particularly those in rural areas, who were able to take advantage of J&J's less restrictive storage requirements. It also means appointments for second doses will have to be scheduled.
"As we continue to seek greater supply of vaccine from the federal government, we urge Maine people to be patient yet persistent in getting an appointment for these safe and effective vaccines,” Maine DHHS Commissioner Jeanne Lambrew said in a release Thursday. “Logistical challenges are to be expected as part of this massive effort and we remain committed to a flexible, efficient and equitable vaccination strategy.”
During Tuesday's coronavirus briefing, Maine CDC Director Dr. Nirav Shah stressed "this is just a pause" and the J&J doses currently at vaccination sites across the state can be saved for later use until more can be understood about these six cases.
The Maine CDC has instructed providers not to throw out their J&J doses, pending additional information and recommendations from the CDC and FDA. Shah said he isn't worried about the 2,500 J&J doses Maine received this week "spoiling on the shelves."
“Our vaccination partners rose to the occasion this week to adapt in ways that made it possible to continue vaccinating Maine people quickly and equitably,” Shah said in a release. “The fine work of Maine’s entire vaccination team will allow us to maintain momentum in our efforts to make the COVID-19 vaccine available throughout the state.”
So far, the J&J vaccine has been a minor player in U.S. vaccinations. More than 122 million Americans have received at least one vaccine dose, the vast majority with shots made by Moderna or Pfizer, and nearly 23% are fully vaccinated.
Both companies are on track to have delivered 300 million doses each by mid- to late July — and federal health authorities stress that there are no signs of the unusual clots with the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines.
"And that's why I continue to urge folks to sign up for slots with those vaccines," Shah said Tuesday. "Even though the administration of J&J may be on pause right now, our administration of Pfizer and Moderna vaccine is continuing unabated ... Getting vaccinated remains one of the best things you can do right now."
Watch Thursday's coronavirus briefing here: