Gov. Mills on vaccine plan: ‘My fundamental goal throughout this pandemic has been to save lives’

Fri, 01/15/2021 - 7:00pm

    My fundamental goal throughout this pandemic has been to save lives, plain and simple. With the introduction of vaccines last month, we received a welcome, critical new tool, and we were ready to use it.

    Hello, this is Governor Janet Mills. Thank you for listening.

    Maine has worked so hard to distribute vaccines quickly, efficiently and equitably, and it shows – we have ranked high among the states nationwide for the percentage of vaccine doses distributed, and just earlier this week, Vice President Mike Pence recognized Maine as one of the leading states nationwide in rapid distribution of the vaccine on a call with the nation’s governors.

    Excluding the doses provided to the retail pharmacy long-term care program administered by the federal government, 82 percent of the first doses of vaccines Maine has received have been administered.

    That is good news, but we still have a ways to go — and significant challenges to overcome — to vaccinate all eligible people in the State of Maine.

    The biggest problem is that Maine is receiving a limited, unpredictable and inconsistent number of doses every week from the federal government. And just today, we found out that the Federal government does not actually have second doses held in reserve as they first told us. My Administration and all the other governors are still trying to find out about this.

    But based on our limited supply, in the first phase or Phase 1a of vaccine distributions in Maine, we have focused on protecting our health care personnel and residents of long-term care facilities.

    Protecting health care personnel is like when you get on the plane, and you’re taking care of somebody else, and they tell you to put your mask on first before you help somebody else in the case of an emergency.

    To further protect emergency response services and COVID-19 response infrastructure, we are expanding Phase 1a to include other first responders and public safety personnel including firefighters, police, prison staff etc. We are also expanding 1a to include certain personnel who are critical to Maine’s or the nation’s COVID-19 response – people who are actually manufacturing test supplies and whatnot.

    Based on the advice of the Maine CDC, I want you to know I received my first dose of the Moderna vaccine on Friday under this expansion of critical covid personnel. I will receive my second and final dose of the vaccine in 28 days.

    It was painless, and I was excited to be vaccinated.

    This week, I also announced that we are updating Phase1b of our vaccination program to include older Maine people, beginning with those who are 70 and older, and adults with high-risk medical conditions.

    Let me be clear though — if you’re 70 and over, please don’t rush to call your doctor’s office when you hear this. They are not ready to give the vaccine yet. More information on vaccination for people age 70 and older in Maine will be available the week of January 18. Coming right up. For now, please continue to be patient.

    We are making this change because we know that Maine has a larger proportion of older people and people with underlying health conditions than other states. We also know that COVID-19 poses a greater risk of serious illness or death to older people and to those with underlying health conditions.

    My question, every step of the way has been, who is it that is most likely to suffer and die if they don’t get the vaccine right off.

    Right now, with our limited supply, we have to focus on saving as many lives as possible, but my Administration will work hard in the coming days, weeks, and months to take whatever supply of vaccine we get from the Federal government, turn it around quickly and efficiently, and make sure as many Maine people as possible get vaccinated.

    I also want to thank all of our medical providers who are working quickly to get vaccines into the arms of Maine people.

    Please, help them do their jobs by continuing to stay safe, take the steps we know keep everybody safe – wear your mask, wash your hands, watch your distance and avoid gatherings, whether you’ve been vaccinated or not. These things will keep us all safe during the pandemic.

    This is Governor Janet Mills. Thank you for listening.