Governor Janet Mills today received her first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine. The Governor was vaccinated on the recommendation of the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention as part of Phase 1a as a person critical to Maine’s COVID-19 response. The Governor leads Maine’s COVID-19 response.

The first dose of the Moderna vaccine was administered to the Governor at the Blaine House this morning by James Jarvis, MD, physician leader for Incident Command, Northern Light Health, and director, Clinical Education, Northern Light Eastern Maine Medical Center. Governor Mills will receive the second, and final dose, of the vaccine in 28 days.

“I have the utmost confidence in the vaccine,” said Governor Janet Mills. “It is safe. It is effective. And it will save lives. I want to thank Dr. Jarvis, and every medical provider across the state, who are working day and night to take care of Maine people and ensure that every dose of vaccine we get ends up in the arms of Maine people. My Administration will continue to work hard in the coming days, weeks, and months to take whatever supply of vaccine we receive from the Federal government, turn it around quickly and efficiently, and make sure as many Maine people as possible are vaccinated.”

The Governor, who is 73, was vaccinated exactly one month after the first person in Maine, a COVID-19 ICU nurse at Maine Medical Center, received the first dose of the Pfizer vaccine. To date, 70,228 cumulative vaccinations have been reported in Maine.

COVID-19 remains an extremely serious public health crisis in Maine, with case numbers and deaths rising. Dr. Shah, Director of the Maine Center for Disease Control (CDC), urged residents to take every precaution possible to avoid contracting the virus.

“We cannot let our guard down,” he said.

On January 13, there were 824 new cases in Maine – the highest number of cases in a single day since the pandemic began. On January 14, there were 808 new cases. The seven-day average is now 622.4, in comparison to a seven-day average of 479.4 fourteen days ago, on New Year’s Eve. Cumulatively, Maine has had 461 deaths from the virus. Of new concern is the rise in hospitalizations, and the fear that ventilators and critical care beds could run short, as they have in so many other states.

Meanwhile, vaccination efforts are underway, and 10,132 people have now received two doses of the vaccine  (the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines require a booster in order to achieve immunity). However, because of vaccine supply issues, most people in Maine still must wait for their turn to get immunized.

Governor Janet Mills’ administration is overseeing the distribution of vaccines. 10,617 people have now received two doses of the vaccine  (the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines require a booster in order to achieve immunity). However, because of vaccine supply issues, most people in Maine still must wait for their turn to get immunized. In addition to those already given to medical providers and residents and staff of long-term care facilities, the current limited vaccine supply will next go to older Maine residents, beginning with those 70 and older (such as Governor Mills); additional emergency service personnel such as police and firefighters; people who support infrastructure critical to Maine’s COVID-19 response; adults of all ages with high-risk medical conditions that place them at greater risk of serious illness or death from COVID-19.

 “As we await information from our federal partners on how quickly they can provide the vaccine, we recommend that Maine people continue to wear face masks in public, stay at least 6 feet apart, and avoid non-essential gatherings with people who don’t live with them,” said Dr. Shah.

Maine is currently in Phase 1a of its vaccine distribution strategy, which is dedicated to protecting health care personnel, such as doctors, nurses, and other health care professionals like emergency medical technicians (EMTs), and residents of long-term care facilities. Beginning this week, Maine is updating Phase 1a to also include individuals who manufacture, distribute, process, or report COVID-19 tests, whose work, if disrupted, would severely hamper the ability of Maine or the United States to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic. More specifically, this includes people who work at Maine CDC, and private companies such as IDEXX, which supports Maine’s COVID-19 testing capabilities; Abbott Laboratories, which manufactures COVID-19 tests for use in Maine and across the nation; Puritan Medical Products, which manufacturers swabs for COVID-19 tests; and Jackson Laboratories. Maine aims to complete Phase 1a by February. Phase 1b will be dedicated to protecting vulnerable residents and frontline workers. Phase 1b should begin this month and be completed by April.

Although vaccinations have begun, COVID-19 remains a serious public health crisis, and Maine people should continue to heed all health and safety protocols, including wearing masks, staying home if you feel sick, practicing physical distancing, washing hands often, and avoiding gatherings.

Despite scientific data indicating that the vaccine is extremely safe, and is highly effective in protecting against COVID-19, vaccine hesitancy – spurred on by social media – continues to be an issue in Maine. Misinformation and conspiracy theories are spread largely through social media, including among some health care workers.

“I strongly encourage everyone who in health care who is eligible right now – get vaccinated – it’s safe, it’s effective, and it will save the lives of those you care for,” said Governor Mills.