Maine Medical Center in Portland will receive 1,885 doses, the largest batch of vaccine in the first week of distribution. Brianna Soukup/Staff Photographer

The Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention has nearly doubled the vaccine delivery expected to arrive at Maine Medical Center in Portland next week, a reflection of the higher risk to staff there as the hospital cares for a record number of  COVID-19 patients.

The agency also released plans to distribute vaccines to dozens of additional hospitals across the state in the coming weeks, including Southern Maine Health Care in Biddeford.

“Vaccination for front-line health care workers could start in Maine as soon as next week,” Dr. Nirav Shah, director of the Maine CDC, said Friday. “Maine CDC continues its work with health care providers to take the steps needed to receive, administer and report vaccinations. We remain committed to efficient and equitable distribution of the vaccine.”

The first delivery of 12,675 doses of a vaccine developed by Pfizer is expected to arrive in Maine next week and will be used to begin vaccinations of front-line health care workers and long-term care residents. But that is just a start: The state has an estimated 75,000 health care workers with direct patient contact and about 6,000 residents of nursing facilities.

The Food and Drug Administration granted emergency authorization to a vaccine by Pfizer on Friday night, and another by Moderna is expected to go through the same process next week. Maine has now ordered more than 50,000 doses of the vaccine. The latest plan will send more than 11,000 doses to Maine Medical Center over the first two weeks of distribution.

Under the plan announced last week, the state would have sent an equal distribution of 975 doses to each of five regional hospitals and the Maine CDC facility, totaling 5,850 doses. The remaining 6,825 doses of that initial batch would have been administered to residents of long-term care facilities through an agreement with elder care facilities and pharmacies.


But a revised plan released Friday identified seven hospitals that will receive vaccines in the first week of distribution, and it shuffled the amounts that would go to each one. The number of doses to be distributed to long-term care facilities did not change, but the state has not yet identified which ones will receive doses first.

The new plan for the initial Pfizer shipment effectively reduces the doses to hospitals in northern and central Maine, and nearly doubles the number of doses going to Maine Med. The state’s largest hospital hit a new high of confirmed COVID-19 inpatients with 40 on Thursday. The previous single-day peak was 35, hit on April 7 and May 25. Maine Med has treated 2,856 COVID-19 patients during the pandemic.

Under the latest plan, Maine Med will receive 1,885 doses, the largest batch. Northern Light Mercy Hospital in Portland and Northern Light Eastern Maine Medical Center in Bangor will each get 975. Maine General Medical Center in Augusta will receive 825; St. Mary’s Regional Medical Center in Lewiston, 500; Central Maine Medical Center in Lewiston, 475; and Northern Light A.R. Gould Hospital in Presque Isle, 215. The number of doses of the initial vaccine shipment going to long-term care facilities is not changing.

The second shipment of the Pfizer vaccine, which is expected the following week, will be distributed between between three hospitals – Maine Med, Maine General Medical Center and Northern Light Eastern Maine Medical Center – receiving 975 doses each.

MaineHealth, which operates nine hospital systems in the state, including Maine Med, said Friday that it will give its initial allotment of the vaccine to the direct care providers at its hospitals that have seen the highest number of COVID-19 patients. The system’s spokesman said that includes Maine Med, Southern Maine Health Care and Mid Coast-Parkview Health.

It also said the initial vaccinations will be directed to intensive care unit teams, emergency department caregivers, those providing care in dedicated COVID-19 inpatient units, and other critical and essential inpatient services that are not available elsewhere.

Also on Friday, the state announced plans for the first shipment of a vaccine developed by Moderna. It is pending approval and is expected to arrive late this month. Because it does not require storage in ultra-cold freezers, the Moderna vaccine can be distributed more widely to smaller facilities.

The first Moderna vaccine shipment will be distributed to 32 hospitals across the state. Nearly two-thirds will receive between 100 and 300 doses. But Southern Maine Health Care in Biddeford and Mid Coast Hospital in Brunswick will both see larger shipments of 2,400 and 1,000, respectively, their first in the distribution plan. Maine Medical Center will get 8,600 doses in that round.

“With FDA authorization of the vaccine days away, we are working with our health care providers to ensure they are ready to vaccinate their workers as soon as these doses arrive,” DHHS Commissioner Jeanne Lambrew said.

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