Maine prepares to place fourth order for COVID-19 vaccines

Wed, 12/23/2020 - 5:45pm

    AUGUSTA — The Maine Department of Health and Human Services announced Wednesday the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention (Maine CDC) will place its fourth order for doses of COVID-19 vaccine Thursday for 19,125 people to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Operation Warp Speed.

    This order will represent the fourth 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 planned order Dec. 24 reflects the maximum number of doses that the federal government recently informed Maine would be available for the third week of distribution.

    Combined with the previous orders, Maine expects to have enough to vaccinate approximately 64,775 people in the first three weeks of distribution.

    Since COVID-19 vaccination began in Maine on December 15, 8,001 frontline health care workers have received the first dose of COVID-19 vaccine.

    Maine CDC's fourth order will comprise 10,725 doses from Pfizer and 8,400 doses from Moderna.

    Last week, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved the emergency use authorization for the Moderna vaccine.

    The state will use some of this Pfizer allocation to complete Part A of the retail pharmacy long-term care program and some to initiate Part B of the program for assisted living facilities and similar long-term care facilities, a program that was delayed last week due to an inadequate allotment of the Pfizer vaccines, according to a news release.

    As of December 22, roughly 1 in 10 outbreaks were associated with skilled nursing facilities in Part A and 1 in 3 outbreaks were associated with assisted living and group homes that qualify for vaccines under Part B. The retail pharmacy program is operated the U.S. CDC and retail pharmacies. Maine DHHS allocates doses to the program but does not play a direct role in distribution of those vaccines to long-term care facilities.

    "We continue to work our way through hospital staff and emergency medical services personnel to preserve our critical care capacity," said DHHS Commissioner Jeanne Lambrew. "Tomorrow's order allows Maine to expand vaccine supply for hospitals as well as additional long-term care residents."

    "Virtually all of the first week's allotment of vaccines for Maine have been provided to front-line health workers," said Dr. Nirav D. Shah, Director of the Maine CDC. "But we have much work to do to ensure all our health care providers get the vaccine as efficiently and equitably as possible."

    In the third week of distribution, shipments of 19,125 doses of vaccine will be sent to hospitals (8,800), emergency medical services (2,300), independent pharmacies serving skilled nursing facilities (1,200) and the retail pharmacy long-term care program (6,825).

    Maine CDC also clarified that it recommends that hospitals use the U.S. CDC Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) definition of health care personnel: "all paid and unpaid persons serving in healthcare settings who have the potential for direct or indirect exposure to patients or infectious materials."

    While every COVID-19 vaccine Maine receives is appreciated, questions persist about the federal government's allocation plan and ongoing provision of these lifesaving vaccines. The fourth allotment was for the third week in a row less than the original estimate provided by Operation Warp Speed, per a news release. 

    Today, Maine launched a new website with information on Maine's COVID-19 vaccine effort at: Maine's planning for COVID-19 vaccine distribution began in spring 2020. The vaccine distribution framework will continue to evolve with continued input from health care providers and various communities throughout Maine.