Governor Janet Mills said Tuesday that she will update Maine’s coronavirus vaccination plan in the coming days in response to new federal guidelines advising states to prioritize vaccinations for those 65 and older and those with pre-existing conditions.
Maine had given 58,083 immunization shots, including 51,150 first doses and 6,933 second doses, as of Tuesday.
Doses delivered to states have come in at a fraction of the pace promised by the Trump administration’s Operation Warp Speed, with Maine getting about 18,000 doses per week.
If the pace does not accelerate rapidly, Maine and the rest of the country will not have enough supply to deliver vaccines to those 65 and older anytime soon regardless of the policy. Seniors 65 and older represent 21 percent of Maine’s 1.3 million population, or about 270,000 people. At the current pace, it would take three to four months to give everyone 65 and older the first dose of the vaccine.
The U.S. CDC had recommended that those in the 65-74 age category be immunized in Phase 1C, and those 75 and older should be immunized in 1B. Maine is currently immunizing group 1A, which includes health care workers, staff and residents of nursing homes, and paramedics, a group that comprises about 130,000 people.
After two days of relatively lower numbers, including 313 new cases on Monday and 273 on Sunday, the 715 new cases reported Tuesday were in line with the higher figures that had been common in Maine early this month and in December. The seven-day daily average on Tuesday stood at 537.3, up from 522.3 a week ago and 367.9 a month ago.
Phase 1B is expected to begin in February and as of now includes seniors 75 and older and front-line essential workers such as police officers, teachers, postal workers and grocery store clerks. However, exactly which groups will be at the front of the line in Phase 1B is still under discussion.
Many families have called on the state to put older residents at the head of the line, ahead of essential workers.
Phase 1C, those between 65 and 74, essential workers and younger people with high-risk health conditions, is not expected to begin until spring, while vaccinating the general population could be late spring or summer.