Maine public health officials provided details about the state’s COVID-19 vaccine allotment on Friday, confirming that it will receive 12,675 doses in the first shipment in mid-December before subsequent shipments boost that number nearly sixfold by early next month.

The first round of shipments, totaling 72,925 doses over three weeks, will be used to protect front-line health care workers at hospitals and residents of long-term care facilities across the state, although the initial batches will be enough to vaccinate only a fraction of those people. The shipments will include both Pfizer and Moderna products, Maine health officials said.

The first doses of the Pfizer vaccine, which is on track to receive emergency authorization from the Food and Drug Administration on Dec. 15,  will be delivered to six locations throughout Maine that have ultra-cold freezers required to store the vaccine at minus 70 degrees Celsius (minus 94 degrees Fahrenheit).

Dr. Nirav Shah, director of the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention, acknowledged that recent confusion over an apparent reduction in the 36,000 doses initially allocated to Maine has heightened concern over maintaining transparency and trust in vaccine distribution in the weeks and months ahead.

Shah said governors have asked the federal government to post information about vaccine distribution on a public website.

“So everybody knows what states are getting,” Shah said during a news briefing Friday. “So we can see if there’s a change, whether there are some that got more and others that got less.”


Gov. Janet Mills said Wednesday that federal projections of Maine’s share of initial shipments of the first COVD-19 vaccine expected to be approved by the FDA had been slashed by nearly two-thirds, to the 12,675 doses.

Mills said it was “alarming” to see the reduction in anticipated shipments of the Pfizer vaccine, which could begin arriving mid-December.

After holding a virtual meeting with Maine’s congressional delegation Friday morning, the Mills administration said it learned that Pfizer reduced the number of vaccine doses it expects to ship worldwide, including to Maine, due to supply chain challenges. The company also extended the schedule for shipping vaccine doses over a longer period.

With that clarification, the Maine CDC has placed orders with the federal government for 12,675 doses of COVID-19 vaccine, which would be enough to vaccinate 12,675 people with the first of two required doses, Shah said.

“(We’re) hoping to be able to get those into the arms of front-line health care workers and soon thereafter nursing home residents as soon as possible,” Shah said, “with the aim of protecting the most vulnerable people in Maine, as well as those who care for them.”

The FDA is scheduled to consider emergency use authorization for the Pfizer vaccine on Dec. 10 and the Moderna vaccine on Dec. 17, with approval to be issued within days and distribution to states to begin soon after.


After the initial vaccine shipment, Maine officials expect two more weekly allocations of 12,675 doses each of the Pfizer vaccine. In addition, they’re expecting shipments of the Moderna vaccine, about 24,200 doses in the first week it’s available and 10,700 doses in the second week. The Moderna vaccine also requires two doses per person but doesn’t require super-cold storage.

It’s not clear when additional shipments would arrive. Shah said federal officials are currently mapping out distribution for the fourth through sixth weeks of the vaccine rollout. The allocations are based on population.

Jeanne Lambrew, commissioner of the Maine Department of Health and Human Services, renewed concern Friday about the untold cost of distributing the vaccine that would be borne by Maine taxpayers without additional federal funding, which is under consideration as part of a COVID-19 relief package proposed by a bipartisan group of senators, including Maine Sens. Susan Collins, a Republican, and Angus King, an independent.

Maine’s congressional delegation, including Reps. Chellie Pingree and Jared Golden, both Democrats, issued a joint statement with Mills following Friday’s Zoom meeting, saying it was “a productive, in-depth discussion” of Maine’s response to the ongoing public health and economic crisis.

“We all agree that we urgently need an additional federal relief package to support families, small businesses, employees, students and health care providers who are struggling,” the statement said. “We have stood united in advocating for the resources Maine needs, and we remain committed to working together to help our families and communities weather this storm.”

Shah said a recent “dry run” to test how vaccines would be delivered to Maine and distributed across the state went well.


Of the initial 12,675 doses destined for Maine, Maine Medical Center in Portland, Northern Light Mercy Hospital in Portland, Northern Light Eastern Maine Medical Center in Bangor, Central Maine Medical Center in Lewiston, Northern Light A.R. Gould Hospital in Presque Isle and the Maine CDC facility will receive 975 doses apiece, a distribution totaling 5,850 doses.

The remaining 6,825 doses of the initial shipment will be administered to residents of long-term care facilities in Maine, through an agreement with elder care facilities and pharmacies, according to the Maine CDC’s statement.

Shah said velocity and equity will be his primary concerns throughout the vaccine rollout.

“What I told my team at the Maine CDC is, every morning I want to know the answers to two questions: How many people did we vaccinate yesterday, and, just as important, did we vaccinate the right people,” Shah said.

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