Maine plans to expand access to COVID-19 vaccines as more doses arrive next week, the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention announced Wednesday.

Assisted-living facilities and emergency medical responders will be among the recipients of vaccines in week three of Maine’s rollout. The 19,125 doses the state will receive also will be used to expand the effort to vaccinate hospital workers and nursing residents and staff, the state said.

The Maine CDC also launched its online COVID-19 vaccine dashboard on Wednesday, providing a central location for information about immunization for patients and health care professionals alike. The site answers frequently asked questions such as who receives priority for the vaccine, and also includes a vaccination counter, which as of 9 p.m. was at 8,001 statewide.

So far, only one person who has been vaccinated in Maine, a health care worker who was inoculated at Maine Medical Center on Tuesday, has experienced a strong allergic reaction to a COVID-19 vaccine, the CDC reported. It is the first such case of anaphylaxis reported in Maine and one of a small number across the country. The unidentified worker, who had a predisposition to allergic reactions, was doing well at home on Wednesday after being treated and observed at the hospital for several hours, the CDC said.

No other serious reactions have been reported among the Mainers who have been vaccinated in hospitals and nursing homes across the state. They were joined Wednesday by some of the first EMTs in the state to get vaccinated.

The Maine Med employee who had an allergic reaction to a first dose of the Pfizer vaccine Tuesday evening had a history of severe allergies and past experience with anaphylaxis, said Dr. Dora Anne Mills, chief health improvement officer for MaineHealth.


Hospital staff conducting the vaccination clinic were aware of the employee’s medical history and observed the person after being vaccinated, as required for all COVID-19 inoculations, Mills said. Symptoms of anaphylaxis can include widespread rash and swelling, plummeting blood pressure, rapid heartbeat and difficulty breathing.

The person started showing symptoms of an allergic reaction after 10 minutes, and it advanced to anaphylaxis after 20 minutes, Mills said. The person was given an epinephrine pen injection and transported to the emergency room for further treatment, which could have included steroids, oxygen and intravenous fluids, she said.

“Everything worked as it should have,” said Mills, who was among the medical volunteers administering vaccines Tuesday night. “The person stayed at the hospital for several hours for observation and was doing well at home today.”

The employee will not be able to receive a second dose of the vaccine, which is required to provide maximum protection, but was glad to at least get a single dose, Mills said.

Mills said an anaphylactic reaction to inoculation is similar to that of someone who has a severe allergy to bee stings or nuts, which is why epi pens are available at each vaccination station and the observation area.

Dr. Nirav Shah, director of the Maine CDC, said Wednesday that the anaphylaxis experienced by the Maine Med employee was similar to those reported in other states and other countries, and that such reports remain rare.


“Reactions of this sort have and will continue to happen,” he said. “Reactions of this sort have thankfully been the extreme rarity.”

At least seven people in the United States have reported severe allergic reactions to COVID-19 vaccines, which had been administered to more than 1 million Americans as of Wednesday morning, according to the U.S. CDC.

In Alaska last week, three health care workers were treated for anaphylactic reactions shortly after receiving the vaccine and have recovered. One had no previous allergies.

The U.S. CDC recommends that all people receiving the vaccines be monitored on site for 15-30 minutes, depending on whether the recipient has a history of severe allergic reactions. Vaccine providers should have medications and equipment such as epinephrine, antihistamines, stethoscopes and blood pressure cuffs ready.

Normal side effects include pain and swelling at the injection site, and possible fever, chills, fatigue and headaches through the rest of the body, according to the U.S. CDC. If redness or tenderness around the shot increases after 24 hours, the person should contact their health care provider.

Because the vaccine requires two doses to be effective, the U.S. CDC recommends that people who experience side effects receive the second shot unless their health providers say otherwise.


In Maine, the next vaccine shipments will be used to continue immunizing front-line health care workers and nursing home residents and staff, and to expand vaccine access to assisted-living facilities and to emergency medical responders, according to the Maine CDC.

The coming shipments are expected to include 10,725 doses of the Pfizer vaccine and 8,400 doses of the Moderna vaccine. All told, Maine health authorities say they’ll have enough doses to vaccinate about 64,775 people in the first three weeks of distribution.

Some of the first vaccines for EMTs were administered Wednesday to members of the York County Incident Management Team, according to a news release from the county government.

Fred Lamontagne, who serves as operations chief for the team, said his goal was to administer 80 doses by the end of the day. Lamontagne is also chief of the Old Orchard Beach Fire Department, which received 100 doses of the Moderna vaccine on Tuesday.

Staff Writer Kelley Bouchard contributed to this report.

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