The Maine Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) announced this week that the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention (Maine CDC) has placed its second order for doses of COVID-19 vaccine for 37,850 people to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Operation Warp Speed. This order represents the second 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 order reflects the maximum number of doses that the federal government recently informed Maine would be available in its second allocation. Combined with the December 4 order, Maine will have enough to vaccinate approximately 50,525 people. Maine CDC expects the second allocation to comprise 13,650 doses from Pfizer and 24,200 doses from Moderna.
This week, a U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) advisory committee recommended authorization of the Pfizer vaccine. The Moderna vaccine is scheduled for the same type of review next week. FDA is now reviewing the advisory committee’s recommendation and is expected to issue its authorization within days.
As previously announced, the first allocation has been administered to frontline health care professionals, as well as residents of skilled nursing and long-term care facilities, per guidelines approved by the U.S. CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices.
In the second week of distribution, shipments of 25,625 doses of vaccine will be sent to hospitals that have a provider agreement with the U.S. CDC. Higher amounts were allocated to hospitals that have had the most COVID-19 patients in the past 60 days. Three home health agencies that have signed up will receive a total of 900 vaccines. EMS agencies in Maine will also begin receiving allocations of vaccine, with this order reflecting vaccine for 500 responders. And 100 doses will go to the Houlton Band of Maliseets; the other tribal governments will get vaccine directly from the Federal government. In parallel to these allocations, Maine will also dedicate 10,725 doses to the retail pharmacy program to vaccinate staff and residents of over 680 skilled nursing and other residential facilities.
In addition to the December 4 order, Maine CDC has been told to expect a third weekly allocation of 13,650 doses of the Pfizer vaccine and second weekly allocation of 10,700 doses of the Moderna vaccine, pending FDA authorization. The Pfizer vaccine requires ultra-cold storage, while the Moderna vaccine can be stored at normal freezing temperature.
While recent developments on potential vaccine approval are promising, questions persist about the federal government’s allocation plan and ongoing provision of these lifesaving vaccines. Maine’s congressional delegation has asked the Federal government for additional information and greater transparency to help the state plan to vaccinate its residents and contain the pandemic as soon as possible.
Maine’s planning for COVID-19 vaccine distribution began in spring 2020, building on the existing network of vaccine providers throughout the state. In October, Maine CDC submitted the first version of its plan to distribute a COVID-19 vaccine. It also has been working with providers to sign up to administer the vaccine. Information can be found on the Maine CDC website. Maine will update the plan as more is learned about vaccine manufacturing, storage, efficacy in different groups, dosing schedules, as well as other factors that will affect the implementation of vaccination on a large scale. The vaccine distribution framework will also evolve with continued input from health care providers and various communities throughout Maine.