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 Pfizer and Moderna COVID-19 vaccine, for 33,500 people, to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and Operation Warp Speed, according to a news release.
While the doses for both Pfizer and Moderna increased for next week over this week’s allotment, no doses of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine are included in next week’s allotment. As such, the overall number of doses will decrease by 8,080 doses for the week of March 8, not counting doses controlled by the federal government sent directly to certain pharmacies and clinics.
This supply of COVID-19 vaccines will be supplemented by doses the federal government will distribute directly to 24 Walmart/Sam’s Club pharmacies, 47 Walgreens pharmacies, and 35 Hannaford pharmacies in Maine.
The Biden Administration has ordered these pharmacies to offer every new appointment first to teachers, school staff, and child care workers. Maine has not been informed how many doses the pharmacies will receive next week or how many doses the federal government will send directly to federally qualified health centers (FQHCs) in Maine.
Maine CDC's order reflects the maximum number of new, first doses available to Maine for distribution. Maine CDC's order, expected to arrive early next week, will comprise 17,550 doses from Pfizer and 15,950 doses from Moderna for the 13th week of distribution, starting March 8. 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 329,055 people in the first 13 weeks of distribution, not counting next week’s pharmacy or FQHC doses.
As of March 4 (week 12), 375,596 doses of COVID-19 vaccine have been given to health care workers, long-term care residents and staff, and older Mainers, including 244,698 people who have received first doses and 130,898 people who have received second doses.
The dashboard on Maine’s COVID-19 vaccination website shows that 18.2 percent of Maine residents have gotten their first doses. This includes 69 percent of Maine residents age 70 and older.
"Although Maine was supplied with fewer doses in the second week of March than the first week, we are working with clinics across the state to get every dose administered quickly," said DHHS Commissioner Jeanne Lambrew. "This includes working with the Department of Education on special clinics to vaccinate teachers and school staff age 60 and older, with details announced soon."
"These vaccines save lives," said Dr. Nirav D. Shah, Director of the Maine CDC. “As we wait for our federal partners to increase weekly allocations to Maine consistently, we cannot let down our guard. Wearing masks in public, washing hands, watching our distance, and avoiding crowds remain important ways to keep each other safe.”
Currently, Maine residents age 60 and older are eligible to be vaccinated. Additionally, Maine residents who are educators, school staff, and child care workers can get vaccinated.
In the 13th week of distribution, the 33,500 first doses of vaccine will be sent to hospitals (30,000), independent pharmacies (1,800), and outpatient groups (2,870). Maine has stopped sending additional vaccine to the retail pharmacy program operated by the U.S. CDC and has redistributed 1,170 doses from this program to other Maine providers. As of March 4, 23,256 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.
The Department continues to support coalitions of health care providers to vaccinate older Mainers in hard-to-reach areas. For example, groups of hospitals, pharmacies, clinics, and nonprofits in rural Somerset County, northern Maine, and York County will receive doses next week for vaccine clinics for adults in these communities.
Health care providers across the state will also receive doses to support vaccine clinics dedicated to older pre-K to 12 staff and teachers who are 60 years or older. Information on such clinics is forthcoming.
Maintaining a focus on older residents remains critical to saving lives. Additional information on vaccination for people in Maine is available at Maine’s COVID-19 vaccine website.