Maine places order for fifth week of COVID-19 vaccines

Fri, 01/08/2021 - 8:00pm

    AUGUSTA — The Maine Department of Health and Human Services announced Friday the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention (Maine CDC) has placed another order for doses of COVID-19 vaccine today, for 17,175 people, to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Operation Warp Speed.

    This order represents the latest 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 8,400 doses from Moderna for the fifth week of distribution.

    The total is 100 more doses than last week's allocation. Additionally, vaccination sites have begun to receive and administer the second dose of the Pfizer vaccine for individuals vaccinated in the first weeks of distribution, starting on December 14.

    Combined with the previous orders, Maine expects to have enough to vaccinate approximately 99,025 people in the first five weeks of distribution.

    Since COVID-19 vaccination began in Maine on December 15, 46,633 doses of COVID-19 vaccine have been given to health care workers and long-term care residents, including 43,362 first doses and 3,271 second doses. This means 40,091 people in Maine have received the vaccine to date.

    Maine has vaccinated the eighth highest percent of its population of all states to date, according to the U.S. CDC, according to a news release. 

    "We encourage all eligible health care workers to get a vaccine when you have the opportunity to do so,"said DHHS Commissioner Jeanne Lambrew. "Today's order, while less than we hoped for, allows even more health care personnel to get protected against this contagious disease."

    "Maine Immunization Program staff, supported by others at the Maine CDC, are working tirelessly to make doses available as soon as they arrive in Maine," said Dr. Nirav D. Shah, Director of the Maine CDC. "Velocity and equity continue to guide the states vaccination plan."

    Maines vaccine planning generally 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 states 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. The goal remains to provide vaccine by February to all health care personnel and long-term care residents in Phase 1a.

    Physicians, nurses, and similar health care providers who practice outside of hospitals and provide acute care are now being vaccinated. In coordination with Maine CDC and DHHS, professional associations in Maine, including the Maine Medical Association (MMA) and Maine Osteopathic Association (MOA), have engaged independent member practices to assess the number and location of patient-facing clinicians and staff to vaccinate. In addition, a number of health systems, community hospitals, federally qualified health centers (FQHCs), and larger independent physician locations have begun to reach out to community physicians. With this needs assessment, the MMA and MOA can help connect patient-facing personnel with sites able to vaccinate them. This process should provide access to COVID-19 vaccines for ambulatory physicians, nurses, and their patient-facing staff over the coming weeks, recognizing that this will depend on the supply of vaccine Maine receives from the federal government as well as the rate of immunizations at vaccination sites.

    In the fifth week of distribution, shipments of 17,175 doses of vaccine will be sent to hospitals (7,700), outpatient groups (1,500), emergency medical services (400), the retail pharmacy long-term care program (4,875), organizations helping to vaccine people in long-term care facilities not in the retail pharmacy program (2,500), and home health and hospice agencies (200).

    The retail pharmacy program is 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.

    The Department has adopted ACIPs 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. 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. Information on how health care personnel can find out about when and how they can be vaccinated is posted at