AUGUSTA — The Maine Department of Health and Human Services announced Thursday the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention (Maine CDC) is preparing to place another order for first doses of COVID-19 vaccine, for 27,740 people, to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Operation Warp Speed.
This week and going forward, the extra sixth dose of vaccine in each vial of Pfizer vaccine will be included in the counts, per a news release. As such, while it appears that the number of doses has increased by 5,265 over last week, the actual number of new doses is 3,510.
This increased supply of COVID-19 vaccines will be supplemented by at least 4,300 doses the Federal government will distribute directly to 24 Walmart and Sam’s Club pharmacies in Maine.
While details are not yet set, the federal government will also distribute another 4,800 COVID-19 vaccine doses directly to an additional pharmacy chain and a to be determined number of doses to at least one federally qualified health center. The new pharmacies and clinics receiving vaccines on top of the State’s allotment will be announced next week, along with how to get an appointment.
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 14,040 doses from Pfizer and 13,700 doses from Moderna for the eleventh week of distribution, starting February 22. Additionally, vaccination sites continue receive and administer the second dose for individuals vaccinated with the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines through a separate distribution process.
Combined with the previous orders, Maine expects to have enough to vaccinate approximately 227,215 people in the first eleven weeks of distribution.
As of February 17 (week ten), 265,991 doses of COVID-19 vaccine have been given to health care workers, long-term care residents and staff, and older Mainers, including 185,906 people who have received first doses and 80,085 people who have received second doses.
The dashboard on Maine’s COVID-19 vaccination website shows that 13.8 percent of Maine residents have gotten their first doses. This includes 47 percent of Maine residents age 70 and older.
According to the Bloomberg vaccine tracker, Maine ranks sixth among states in the highest percent of first doses administered to its residents.
"Our goal for next week is that the majority of Mainers 70 and older will have received their first dose," said DHHS Commissioner Jeanne Lambrew. "By maximizing vaccination at large sites while supporting local coalitions to vaccinate hard-to-reach residents, Maine can achieve that goal."
"Adding vaccination site options helps us vaccinate at-risk Maine residents quickly and fairly," said Dr. Nirav D. Shah, Director of the Maine CDC. “But weekly vaccine allocations from our federal partners remain constrained, so it’s important that Maine people not let down our guard. Wearing masks, washing hands, physical distancing, and avoiding crowds continue to be the best ways to keep each other safe.”
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. 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 eleventh week of distribution, the 27,740 first doses of vaccine will be sent to hospitals (24,040) outpatient groups (3,500), and organizations helping to vaccine people in long-term care facilities not in the federal retail pharmacy program (200). Maine has stopped sending additional vaccine to the retail pharmacy program operated by the U.S. CDC, as it has sufficient vaccine doses at this time. As of February 10, 21,926 first doses have been administered to the roughly 26,000 residents and staff eligible in Maine’s long-term care facilities participating in the program.
Next week’s distribution will continue to focus on people ages 70 and older. Coalitions of health care providers will vaccinate older Mainers in Aroostook County, the Lincoln area, and the hard-to-reach islands. The Department is also working with MaineHousing to identify congregate and independent living sites with older residents to establish vaccine clinics offered by public health nurses, among others, to overcome transportation challenges that some residents face. Additionally, the sites that have been vaccinating the largest number of people each week, Scarborough Downs and the Bangor Cross Insurance Center, will receive additional vaccine doses to enable them to further expand their capacity.
Maintaining a focus on older residents remains critical to saving lives. Additional information on vaccination for people age 70 and older in Maine is available at Maine’s COVID-19 vaccine website.
The State is committed to vaccinating with equity at high velocity and not wasting any doses of the COVID-19 vaccine. This means that some individuals are vaccinated before others and not always precisely in the order of the Phases in the Maine vaccine plan. That said, the work will not stop until every resident in Maine who wants and needs a vaccine gets one.