Maine to see decrease of COVID-19 vaccines without J&J doses

Fri, 04/16/2021 - 11:00am

    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 an order for first doses of Pfizer and Moderna COVID-19 vaccine for 36,460 people to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and Operation Warp Speed.

    This is a decrease of 230 doses from the current week, not counting doses controlled by the federal government sent directly to certain pharmacies and clinics.

    Maine CDC's order reflects the maximum number of new doses available to Maine for distribution. Maine CDC's order, expected to arrive early next week, will comprise 21,060 doses from Pfizer and 15,400 doses from Moderna for the 19th week of distribution, starting April 19.

    Additionally, vaccination sites continue to receive and administer the second dose for individuals vaccinated with the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines through a separate distribution process.

    Maine is receiving no doses of the Johnson and Johnson vaccine next week, following the recommendation by the U.S Food and Drug Administration and U.S. CDC to pause use of that vaccine out of an abundance of caution following reports of six cases of an extremely rare and severe type of blood clot in recipients in the United States.

    Maine acted swiftly to redirect doses of Pfizer and Moderna vaccine to sites that had planned to administer the J&J vaccine to ensure continued vaccinations for Maine people. This includes the mobile vaccination unit (MVU) in Oxford, where 1,650 doses of Moderna are available this week. Appointments are also available at the MVU’s next stop in Windham April 18-22 by calling the Community Vaccination Line at 1-888-445-4111.

    This supply of COVID-19 vaccines will be supplemented by doses the federal government will distribute directly to retail pharmacies and selected federally qualified health centers (FQHCs) in Maine. The number of doses sent to such facilities is typically determined at the end of the week prior to the following week’s distribution.

    Combined with the previous orders, Maine expects to have enough to vaccinate approximately 688,565 people in the first 19 weeks of distribution, assuming the pharmacy chains and FQHCs get the same proportion of doses coming to Maine next week as this week.

    As of April 14 (week 18), 945,186 doses of COVID-19 vaccine have been given to Mainers, including 540,611 people who have received first doses and 404,575 people who have received second doses of Moderna and Pfizer or single doses of Johnson and Johnson vaccines.

    The dashboard on Maine’s COVID-19 vaccination website shows that 40 percent of Maine residents have gotten their first doses and 30 percent have received final doses. This includes 67 percent of Maine residents age 50 and older receiving first doses and 54 percent who have received final doses.

    "As we continue to seek greater supply of vaccine from the federal government, we urge Maine people to be patient yet persistent in getting an appointment for these safe and effective vaccines,” said DHHS Commissioner Jeanne Lambrew. “Logistical challenges are to be expected as part of this massive effort and we remain committed to a flexible, efficient and equitable vaccination strategy.”

    “Our vaccination partners rose to the occasion this week to adapt in ways that made it possible to continue vaccinating Maine people quickly and equitably,” said Dr. Nirav D. Shah, Director of the Maine CDC. “The fine work of Maine’s entire vaccination team will allow us to maintain momentum in our efforts to make the COVID-19 vaccine available throughout the state.”

    All Maine residents ages 16 and older are eligible to be vaccinated. Only the Pfizer vaccine is authorized for youth ages 16 and 17 and not all vaccination sites in Maine have this type of vaccine. The list of vaccination sites indicates which sites are able to vaccinate youth.

    In the 19th week of distribution, the 36,460 doses will be sent to: hospitals (30,990), outpatient providers including the mobile vaccine unit (5,070), independent pharmacies, and public health nurses (400). Maine continues to work with independent pharmacies to support pop-up clinics sought by community-based groups whose members may otherwise face barriers to vaccination.

    People who need help getting an appointment can call the Community Vaccination Line at 1-888-445-4111. It is available Monday through Friday from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. and Saturday and Sunday from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. Translation services are available through this line. Deaf and hard of hearing individuals may dial 711 and ask to be connected to the number above. The Vaccination Line does not provide faster access to appointments.

    Additionally, the Department is offering free rides to and from appointments for people who otherwise would struggle to get there. If you have an appointment and need a ride, call 1-855-608-5172 at least 48 hours in advance of your appointment.