Maine poised to place first order of Johnson & Johnson vaccine doses

Sat, 02/27/2021 - 9:45pm

    AUGUSTA — Following the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s Emergency Use Authorization of Johnson & Johnson’s single-shot COVID-19 vaccine, the Maine Department of Health and Human Services and the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention (Maine CDC) will soon place its first order for 11,500 doses of the newly authorized Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine, according to a news release.

    These doses are expected to arrive alongside the previously ordered 39,060 first doses of Pfizer and Moderna vaccine as part of Week 12 of the vaccine effort, an effort announced Thursday, Feb. 25 by Maine DHHS and Maine CDC. 

    “The authorization of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine is another step forward in our fight against the pandemic and comes at the right time as we expand eligibility to those 60 and older next week,” said Governor Mills. “As soon as we receive our allotment, we will work with health care providers to get these vaccines into the arms of Maine people as quickly and as efficiently as possible. My most fundamental goal is to save lives, and this new, one-shot vaccine will help us accomplish that. Today, I am grateful to scientists who made this breakthrough possible and to Maine people who continue to do their part to stem the tide on this pandemic by wearing their masks, watching their distance, and avoiding large gatherings.”

    “The Johnson & Johnson vaccine will arrive in Maine in a few short days, adding a new, strong tool to help end the COVID-19 pandemic," said Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) Commissioner Jeanne Lambrew. “This will help Maine accelerate its work to vaccinate every Maine resident.”

    “The FDA’s emergency authorization of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine expands vaccination options for Maine people,” said Dr. Nirav D. Shah, Director of the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention. “Because it’s fully effective with one shot and does not require ultracold storage, some of the challenges we faced when previous vaccines were approved will not be a factor as we distribute this vaccine to sites throughout Maine.”

    DHHS and Maine CDC expects to distribute these 11,500 doses to hospitals, independent pharmacies, emergency medical services and outpatient groups.

    These doses will allow emergency medical services to stand up new clinics in York County, allow Redington Fairview Hospital in Farmington to expand access in Somerset County, and allow coalitions of health care providers to vaccinate older Mainers in Washington, Aroostook, and northern Penobscot counties. Complete details of the distribution will be posted on Maine’s COVID-19 vaccination website March 1.

    Altogether, Maine will receive 50,560 doses the week of March 1. Compared to the week of February 15, clinics will be able to nearly double the number of Maine people who can get their first or, in the case of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, only dose of COVID-19 vaccine.

    When taken with previous orders, and when combined with doses provided through the Federal Retail Pharmacy Program, Maine expects to have enough vaccine to vaccinate approximately 291,055 people in the first 12 weeks of distribution.

    As of February 26 (week 11), 338,663 doses of COVID-19 vaccine have been given to health care workers, long-term care residents and staff, and older Mainers, including 222,405 people – or 16.6 percent of Maine residents – who have received first doses and 116,258 people who have received second doses.

    Sixty-three percent of Maine residents age 70 and older have been vaccinated.

    The FDA’s authorization comes after Governor Mills announced that Maine residents age 60 and older are eligible for vaccination beginning March 3.

    To save lives and ensure that health care providers can efficiently and quickly vaccinate as many people as possible, Governor Mills also announced Friday the State will adopt an age-based approach to expanding vaccine eligibility.

    The planned schedule, which is subject to change depending on fluctuations in vaccine supply including an acceleration if supply increases, is as follows:

    March 3: Eligibility expands to residents age 60 and older
    April: Eligibility expands to age 50 and older
    May: Eligibility expands to age 40 and older
    June: Eligibility expands to age 30 and older
    July and beyond: Ages 29 and under, including children pending authorization of a vaccine for them