AUGUSTA, Maine — The Maine CDC placed its order for first doses of the vaccine, enough for 20,375 people, to the U.S. CDC and Operation Warp Speed. Maine is set to receive a shipment of COVID-19 vaccine doses for the eighth week of distribution that the Maine Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) says is 16 percent higher than the current week's allotment.
Maine DHHS says the increase is expected to remain the same for the next three weeks.
"The increase in the coming weeks’ vaccine doses will allow Maine to expand the pace and breadth of vaccinating Maine residents age 70 and older who are at greatest risk of serious illness or death from COVID-19," DHHS Commissioner Jeanne Lambrew said in a release. "We can simultaneously support large community sites that are newly opening as well as smaller independent sites that will help vaccinate hard-to-reach residents."
Last week, Maine received 17,575 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine from the Federal government, 975 fewer doses than the week before.
Gov. Janet Mills earlier this week praised the Biden administration's announcement to boost vaccine supply to states.
“Maine is distributing vaccines as quickly and as efficiently as possible but, to date, we have received a limited and inconsistent supply of vaccines from the Federal government which has constrained our ability to vaccinate people," Mills said. "Like many of my fellow governors, I was encouraged to hear the Biden Administration pledge that states will receive a greater allotment of vaccine doses in the coming weeks, allowing us to get more shots into the arms of Maine people. We will distribute this increased allotment expediently in line with our vaccination strategy, focusing right now on those over 70 who are more likely to suffer and die if they contract COVID.”
Maine CDC's latest 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 11,600 doses from Moderna for the eighth week of distribution. Additionally, vaccination sites have begun to receive and administer the second dose of the Pfizer vaccine for individuals vaccinated in the first weeks of distribution.
- Combined with the previous orders, Maine expects to have enough to vaccinate approximately 155,525 people in the first eight weeks of distribution.
- Since COVID-19 vaccination began in Maine on December 15, 128,704 doses of COVID-19 vaccine have been given to health care workers, long-term care residents, and older Mainers, including 97,033 people who have received first doses and 31,671 people who have received second doses.
- A new dashboard on Maine’s COVID-19 vaccination website shows that 7.22 percent of Maine residents have gotten their first doses.
"It’s heartening to see how many Maine people want to be vaccinated, but we all need to remain patient," Maine CDC Director Dr. Nirav Shah said. “As our federal partners strive to make more doses available, the best things we can do are to wear masks, stay 6 feet apart, wash hands often, and avoid non-essential gatherings.”
Maine DHHS says while the upcoming increase is encouraging, the amount of vaccine doses received this week combined with the next three weeks is enough for less than half of the Maine residents age 70 and older who have yet to get their first doses.
Mainers are encouraged to be patient since the federal supply of vaccine falls far short of demand.
Separately, Maine CDC learned from the federal government that the 4,400 doses of Moderna vaccine that arrived in Maine last week with potential temperature variations outside the prescribed range may be safely and effectively used.
RELATED: Maine CDC: 4,400 Moderna vaccine doses compromised; US CDC, Operation Warp Speed investigating
Maine is completing Phase 1a and starting Phase 1b under its vaccine strategy. Phase 1a includes patient-facing health care personnel, emergency service personnel such as police and firefighters, and people who support infrastructure critical to Maine’s COVID-19 response as determined by the Maine CDC.
Phase 1b includes older Maine residents, beginning with those 70 and older; followed by people ages 65 to 69. Additional information on others in Phase 1b, Phase 1c, and Phase 2 will be released as more information becomes available on the vaccine supply and pace of vaccination in Maine.
In the eighth week of distribution, the 20,375 first doses of vaccine will be sent to hospitals (11,925), outpatient groups (4,050), public safety (1,600), and organizations helping to vaccine people in long-term care facilities not in the retail pharmacy program (2,800). Maine has paused on sending additional vaccine to the retail pharmacy program operated by the U.S. CDC, as it has sufficient vaccine doses for the coming week.
In an effort to reach older Mainers who face challenges getting a vaccine, DHHS is sending letters to 31,000 MaineCare members age 70 and older with information about where they can get a vaccine and how they can access support for transportation.
Additionally, the Department is working to direct more vaccine to federally qualified health centers. Among those receiving an allocation this week is the B Street Health Center, which serves many new Mainers through its services in the Lewiston area, and a consortium of federally qualified health centers working to vaccinate older Mainers throughout Washington County. Area Agencies on Aging are also available to help older Mainers who need assistance getting vaccinated with finding options in their area. Individuals can call 1-877-353-3771 toll-free to be directed to their local Area Agency on Aging office based on their county of residence.