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'Many doesn't cut it. It really needs to be all.' Nearly 90% of Maine long-term care residents, staff have had first dose of COVID-19 vaccine

The U.S. CDC reports 23,321 first doses have been given out to residents and staff at nursing homes, assisted-living facilities, and similar residences.

PORTLAND, Maine — Nearly 90 percent of residents and staff at Maine's long-term care facilities have received a first dose of COVID-19 vaccine, according to data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and the Maine Department of Health and Human Services.

Numbers from the U.S. CDC show 23,321 first doses have been administered, and 13,179 doses have been administered to staff and residents in nursing homes, assisted-living facilities, and similar residences in Maine.

Maine's DHHS estimates about 26,000 residents and staff live and work in long-term care facilities across the state, meaning 89.7 percent of residents and staff have received first doses, and 50.7 percent have gotten second doses. 

Even with this significant progress, Maine Center for Disease Control Director Dr. Nirav Shah said people cannot visit these facilities without wearing masks.

"Even though many have been vaccinated in nursing homes, really, many doesn't cut it. It really needs to be all," Shah said at a press briefing Thursday. "In a nursing home, where there's new residents coming in, there's new staff coming in, you may not know on any given day whether every single person in the building has been fully vaccinated. So in nursing homes, we're not changing our guidance. "

Doctor Shah said the U.S. CDC is working on new guidance around visitation at nursing homes, especially for those who have been vaccinated and want to visit vaccinated family members in long-term care facilities.

"I think there's a lot more to come on that in the coming days and weeks," he said.

Maine DHHS issued guidance before the vaccine was released on how to safely visit loved ones in long-term care facilities.

"It can be done safely with masking, with physical distancing, with the appropriate protocols in the nursing home, and we did tier that visitation guidance by the local positivity rate, and the good news about Maine right now is that our positivity rates are relatively low," DHHS Commissioner Jeanne Lambrew said at the briefing. "So there are opportunities, even without a vaccine, for people to visit people in nursing homes with care."