Maine’s COVID-19 vaccination plan – Portland Press Herald – pressherald.com

4February 2021

It’s hard to believe that we’re nearly a year into the COVID-19 pandemic. For many, this past year was the most challenging of their entire lives. People were forced to leave their jobs, isolated from their families and friends, and missed out on holidays and other beloved traditions. Folks who have worked their entire lives had to learn to navigate a complicated unemployment system, and small businesses have struggled just to stay afloat. Despite the fact that we have seen some of the deadliest days from the virus in Maine and the country during the past few weeks, there is hope on the horizon. We currently have two approved vaccines for use against COVID-19, and at the time of writing this, more than 158,000 Mainers have received either one or both of the doses. I know that many in our community are eager to receive their shot, and I have received a lot of questions about when they might be able to do so. Because of that, I’d like to take this time to share some information about Maine’s vaccination plan and where we currently are.

Because Maine receives a limited supply of the vaccines each week, it has adopted a phased approach to giving out doses. According to the Maine CDC, the two immediate goals of the vaccination plan are to one, save the lives of people most at risk of having severe symptoms of the virus, and two, protect those who are on the front lines of our fight against the pandemic. We are currently still in Phase 1a of this plan, where health care personnel, public safety employees, long-term care residents and staff, and other related positions can receive the vaccine. As a nurse at Mercy hospital, I was extremely grateful to receive my own vaccination in December. It was an emotional moment for me, and the first time I could imagine an end to the pandemic after all those long shifts working in the hospital.

In addition to frontline workers, the Maine CDC also announced in January that residents 70 or older could begin receiving the vaccine. While this is great news for Maine seniors, there is still a very limited supply at this time, and availability can vary from location to location. I know it’s hard to keep waiting after all this time, but please do your best to be patient and understanding. As CDC director Dr. Nirav Shah says, everyone who wants the vaccine will be able to get it. You can find a list of health care sites now offering vaccinations at www.maine.gov/covid19/vaccines/vaccination-sites.

In the coming weeks, we will be moving into Phase 1b, where folks who are 65 and older will also be able to receive the vaccine. Unfortunately, we don’t know exactly when this next phase, or other phases after, will start. Between the federal vaccine supply, distribution plan, potential new vaccines and other factors, there’s a lot that can change in a day. For the most accurate, up-to-date info on vaccines, you can always check the Maine CDC’s website at www.maine.gov/covid19/vaccines. I would also be remiss to not thank the men and women at Scarborough Downs, who along with MaineHealth, have stepped up to transform their facility into a mass vaccination site. This will be an incredibly valuable piece in making sure everyone can access a vaccine.

This is an exciting time for all of us. We’re beginning to get a peek at a life where COVID-19 is not our main focus every day. But it’s also critical that while we wait for more of the general public to get vaccinated, we all continue to do the things we know reduce spread of the virus. Wearing a mask, staying socially distanced, and keeping proper hygiene can go a long way to keeping ourselves and each other safe. We will get through this, but for now, we have to stay vigilant.

If you have any questions, comments or ideas, you can always reach me by email at [email protected] or by phone at 287-1515.

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