AUGUSTA — The Maine Department of Health and Human Services announced Thursday the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention (Maine CDC) has placed its fifth order for doses of COVID-19 vaccine today for 17,075 people to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Operation Warp Speed.
This order, per a news release, will represent the fifth in a series of vaccine requests that Maine CDC will file in the coming weeks and months, as specified by Operation Warp Speed, as part of Maine's accessible, flexible, and equitable distribution plan for the vaccine.
Maine CDC's 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 8,300 doses from Moderna for the fourth week of distribution. The total number is less than the third week's allocation of 19,125.
Additionally, sites are expected to receive next week the second dose of the Pfizer vaccine for individuals vaccinated in the first week of distribution, December 14.
Combined with the previous orders, Maine expects to have enough to vaccinate approximately 81,850 people in the first four weeks of distribution.
Since COVID-19 vaccination began in Maine on December 15, 27,122 health care workers and long-term care residents have received the first dose of COVID-19 vaccine.
"It is a challenge to have less vaccine to distribute in each of the last two weeks, but Maine has now vaccinated more residents than have had COVID-19," said DHHS Commissioner Jeanne Lambrew. "Today's order allows Maine to expand vaccinations to patient-facing health care personnel outside the walls of hospitals who have been providing critical care to people in Maine."
"The changes in the number of doses and mix of vaccines we're receiving has forced us to alter some parts of our vaccination plan," said Dr. Nirav D. Shah, Director of the Maine CDC. "Despite those changes, we remain focused on ensuring that all Maine health care providers get the vaccine as efficiently and equitably as possible."
Maine’s vaccine planning aligns with the recommendations of the U.S. CDC Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP). Maine has prioritized its limited supply of vaccine for health care personnel and residents of skilled nursing and long-term care facilities under Phase 1a.
While the federal government controls the state's vaccine supply, Maine CDC continues to work with partners throughout the state to vaccinate as many Maine people on the front lines of the pandemic as quickly as possible.
Maine is beginning to extend vaccination beyond hospital staff to additional health care workers in Phase 1a.
The goal, recognizing that Maine's planning is dependent on the federal government's vaccine allocation, is to provide vaccine by February to all health care personnel and long-term care residents in Phase 1a.
In the fourth week of distribution, shipments of 17,075 doses of vaccine will be sent to hospitals (7,000), outpatient groups (2,500), emergency medical services (200), independent pharmacies serving skilled nursing facilities (2,500) and the retail pharmacy long-term care program (4,875).
Physicians, nurses, and similar health care providers who practice outside of hospitals are beginning to be vaccinated.
Over half of next week’s allocation is targeted toward the patient-facing staff at hospital-affiliated medical practices, dialysis centers, oncology practices, federally qualified health centers, and independent medical practices that provide urgent and acute care.
Given the limited supply of vaccines, sites that have a large number of employees will begin to receive vaccine in the fourth week, with additional sites being added in the following weeks. Additional information on how all health care personnel can get vaccinated will be provided in January.
The Department has adopted ACIP's definition of "health care personnel." Given the limited and smaller than expected supply of vaccine, the Department recommends starting with health care personnel key to maintaining our critical care capacity, including outpatient clinicians who provide care to people with chronic or serious conditions. The Department then recommends vaccinating other patient-facing health care personnel, and then vaccinating all other personnel falling into the ACIP definition. Information on how health care personnel can find out about when and how they can be vaccinated is posted at maine.gov/covid19/vaccines/mainehealthcarepersonnel.
These recommendations are aimed at completing Phase 1a by February and promoting public health by protecting Maine's health care workforce against COVID-19.
Vaccinating at this velocity means that some individuals within Phase 1a are vaccinated before others even if those individuals face less exposure to COVID-19.
Maine is also participating in the retail pharmacy program operated the U.S. CDC. Maine DHHS allocates doses to the program but does not play a direct role in distribution of those vaccines to long-term care facilities.