On Tuesday morning, Kayla Mitchell, a registered nurse at Maine Med’s intensive care unit, was vaccinated with the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine. She was among the first in Maine to receive this life-saving vaccine as soon as the first shipment arrived around the state to be administered to high risk frontline health care workers.
Hello, this is Governor Janet Mills and thank you for listening.
After rolling up her sleeve, Ms. Mitchell said, “I trust the science and I trust that receiving the vaccine is a safer alternative to how critically ill patients are suffering. I’ve seen enough,” she said. “People are scared and they end up alone. It’s exhausting and it’s relentless.”
She’s right. The coronavirus pandemic has been relentless and this second surge is raging; but the arrival of a vaccine is a beacon of hope in this otherwise difficult time.
The logistical feats of distributing vaccines as soon as they are FDA approved to all corners of the state is the result of months of collaboration by Maine hospital systems, health care people, long term care facilities, pharmacies, the Federal government, the Maine CDC and DHHS, and others. I thank all of them for their efforts to protect the health and safety of Maine people.
This initial shipment of course is just the beginning of what will be a months long process to receive, distribute, and administer the vaccine, among other new vaccines, as they become available.
We will keep updating and refining the vaccine plan, with the anticipated FDA authorization of other vaccines, with any changes in supply, overcoming logistical hurdles, with the hoped-for increase in Federal support. And, above all, we will distribute vaccines in the quickest, most efficient, and most equitable manners possible.
Some have asked me when I will get vaccinated. Let me be clear – I have every confidence in the recently approved COVID-19 Pfizer vaccine, and I expect I will be vaccinated when the Maine CDC’s vaccine plan determines it is appropriate for me to do so, following US CDC guidelines.
The arrival of the vaccine this week lifted our spirits. We share the sense of relief for frontline health care workers like Kayla Mitchell, many of whom are exhausted, having worked around the clock to comfort people and save lives. At the same time, let’s remember, it will take many months to make this vaccine widely available, and these vaccines often require two doses that are weeks apart.
Meanwhile, the virus is rampant. It is stealing the lives of Maine people and making hundreds and hundreds of others very ill, with sometimes long-term after affects. And, with nearly two hundred people in hospitals right now fighting to survive in Maine alone.
We cannot let down our guard now. In fact, it is more critical than ever that we avoid crowds, and parties and other gatherings, whether outdoors or indoors, whether commercial, ceremonial, or recreational; and that we wear our masks, watch our distance and wash our hands – to protect ourselves, our loved ones, our healthcare workers like Kayla Mitchell and everyone else.
Please have courage. Have patience. Have faith and stay safe.
This is Governor Janet Mills and thank you for listening.