Send us your questions about Maine’s rollout of the COVID-19 vaccines to: [email protected]

How many doses will Maine get and when?

The Maine CDC expects Maine to receive enough doses to vaccinate 50,525 people, or roughly 4 percent of the population, in the first three shipments. The first 12,675 doses of the Pfizer vaccine are expected to arrive in Maine on Monday or Tuesday, with another 13,650 doses to follow.

The initial shipment of a vaccine developed by Moderna will include  24,200 doses and is expected later in the month.

More shipments will follow, but specific dates are subject to change.

Also, because the vaccines require two separate shots about three weeks apart, the federal government will provide matching follow-up shipments in time for the second injection.

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Who is first in line?

Health care workers at risk of exposure and residents of long-term care facilities are the highest priorities for the vaccinations under Maine’s plan.

The first delivery of 12,675 doses will be split roughly in half between hospital workers and long-term care residents.

That will only be a start. Maine has an estimated 75,000 health care workers with direct patient contact and about 6,000 residents of nursing facilities.

Which hospitals and nursing homes will get vaccine?

Under the latest plan for the shipment arriving this week, Maine Medical Center in Portland 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 see 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.

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The remaining 6,825 doses of the initial shipment will be administered to residents of long-term care facilities. The state has not yet revealed which facilities.

Later this month, a second shipment of Pfizer vaccine and an initial shipment of Moderna vaccine will be allocated to 32 hospitals around the state.

When can I get the shot?

The timing of future vaccine deliveries is not yet known, but the general public is not expected to have access to vaccinations in Maine until spring or summer, according to Maine’s plan.

Phase 1 is expected to begin this week and includes front-line health care workers and residents of long-term care facilities.

Phase 2 would distribute the vaccine to people with underlying health conditions, school staff, correctional facilities, and seniors, although the plan did not specify an age range.

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Phase 3 would include further broadening to more populations, such as young adults, children and people who work in higher-risk industries or essential jobs who weren’t previously offered the vaccine.

Phase 4 means the vaccine would be available to all Maine residents.

Who decides how the vaccines are allocated?

The federal government is distributing vaccines based on the population of each state.

While the federal government also is making recommendations about how the vaccines should be allocated by states, the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention is deciding  how to allocate Maine’s share of the vaccines.

Finally, individual hospitals and long-term care facilities are deciding which workers and residents are most at risk and should be vaccinated first.

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At Maine Medical Center, for example, vaccinations will go first to Intensive Care Unit teams, Emergency Department caregivers and those providing care in dedicated COVID-19 inpatient units among others at high risk.

How soon will vaccines bring an end to this pandemic?

The initial vaccine rollout is being described as the beginning of the end. But it will take many more months to vaccinate enough people in Maine and nationwide to reach a level known as herd immunity and protect against deadly outbreaks.

The US CDC says it is not known what percentage of the population needs to be vaccinated to reach herd immunity because it is different for each disease.

Some health experts have estimated that at least 70 percent, or 229 million Americans, must be vaccinated to achieve that level of collective immunity. Some have said that threshold could be closer to 90 percent, or 295 million people.

For comparison, the initial rollout of vaccines this month will reach a maximum of 20 million Americans.

Can I stop wearing a mask when I get the shot?

No. While the vaccines headed toward distribution are effective in preventing people from becoming sick, it’s not clear how successful they will be at preventing people from harboring the virus and silently spreading the disease. More studies are being done, but it may be possible for vaccinated people to become silent spreaders.

Regardless of even a relatively successful vaccine rollout, some medical experts say we should be prepared to wear masks thru 2021 and possibly into 2022.

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