With 8% of Mainers fully vaccinated, and expanding eligibity, possibility grows of near-normal summer ahead — if Mainers continue to be careful
The Mills administration announced today that Mainers 60 years and older will be able to be vaccinated against COVID beginning next Wednesday, March 3, 2021. The age-based approach to expanding vaccine eligibility is intended to save lives. Recent scientific data indicates that age is among the strongest predictors of whether an individual is likely to get seriously ill and die from COVID-19, even more so than risk factors such as underlying medical conditions.
In Maine, 98 percent of deaths from COVID-19 have been people aged 50 and older. The death rate among people with COVID-19, when compared to Maine residents under age 50, is eight times higher for those in their 50s, 23 times higher for those in their 60s, and 214 times higher for those aged 70 and older.
The planned schedule, which is subject to change depending on fluctuations in vaccine supply including an acceleration if supply increases, is as follows:
- March 3: Eligibility expands to residents age 60 and older
- April: Eligibility expands to age 50 and older
- May: Eligibility expands to age 40 and older
- June: Eligibility expands to age 30 and older
- July and beyond: Ages 29 and under, including children pending authorization of a vaccine for them
Dr. Nirav D. Shah, Director of the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention, warned against dropping precautionary measures to control the spread of the disease. “As we work toward vaccinating all Mainers, from oldest to youngest, it remains critical 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.”
“Simply vaccinating by age will increase our rate of shots in arms, helping us to win the race against the COVID-19 variant taking hold in Maine and look forward to a summer in Maine that, with masks and social distancing, can resemble normal,” said Jeanne Lambrew, Commissioner of the Maine Department of Health and Human Services. “We continue to work with health care providers and community partners to help those within that population who are the oldest, who are otherwise at risk or disadvantaged, or who may struggle to get to a vaccination site or access online appointments.”
As part of the update to the vaccination strategy, Governor Mills also directed the Maine Department of Health and Human Services and the Maine Department of Education to provide in the coming weeks vaccination opportunities dedicated to pre-K-12 school staff who are eligible for vaccination within the age categorizations. The Governor hopes that by providing dedicated opportunities for vaccination for teachers within their age categorizations, Maine can further protect school staff and provide more consistency for schools in terms of staffing moving forward.
To date, Maine has administered 328,357 doses of COVID-19 vaccine. 217,667 people, or 16.19 percent of residents, have gotten first doses with 110,690 people, or 8.23 percent of residents, having received both doses. According to Moody’s Analytics and CNN Business’s “Back to Normal Index,” Maine is best in New England, and 18th best in the nation, in returning to pre-pandemic economic activity.
All eligible Maine residents are required to make an appointment in advance of receiving the vaccine. Because it takes time to implement changes in eligibility, newly eligible people should hold on calling for appointments until next week. For information on Maine’s COVID-19 vaccination strategy, visit: maine.gov/covid19/vaccines, which includes a list of vaccination sites across Maine with information on scheduling options.
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.