SCARBOROUGH — Town Manager Tom Hall announced on Dec. 16 that Scarborough’s first responders are among one of three agencies selected in Cumberland County to begin administering COVID-19 vaccines.

The state of Maine has selected three municipalities in each county to roll out the vaccine to first responders, Hall said. In Cumberland County, Scarborough is among Portland and Gorham to have been selected.

“That’s a fairly narrow group: that’s fire, EMS, police and dispatch,” he said. “Though in Cumberland County that represents about 15,000 to 16,000 individuals.”

As of Dec. 16, one drug for the COVID-19 vaccine has been approved by the FDA. Gov. Janet Mills released a statement on Dec. 14 that Maine had received the first arrival of the Pfizer vaccine, which went statewide to frontline health care workers.

“This news is a much-needed beacon of hope in an otherwise difficult time,” Mills said. “This logistical feat is the result of months of collaboration by Maine hospital systems, health care officials, long term care facilities, pharmacies, the federal government, the Maine CDC (Centers of Disease Control and Prevention) and DHHS (Department of Health and Human Services), and others. I thank all of them for their efforts to protect the health and safety of Maine people.”

Moderna’s vaccine is expected to receive FDA approval on Dec. 17 and is considered for the rollout to Scarborough first responders, Hall said.

“We’ve already been advised they’ll be shipping into the state as soon as Dec. 21,” he said.

Scarborough was selected for a similar role when the H1N1 vaccine first emerged, Hall said.

The approved Pfizer and yet-to-be approved Moderna vaccines are “two-stage drugs,” he said. “So there’s a two-step process involved in this as well. We’ve really scoured all the different challenges, from scheduling to insurance billing, to simple logistics of how we move people through our facilities safely. We’ve really become comfortable that we can accomplish this.”

There is still uncertainty about when and how the general public will receive the vaccine, Hall said, calling that a “whole different endeavor.”

“We’ve advised the state that we’re willing to serve as one of the three areas to administer and believe we have the capability,” he said. “We’re pleased to step up to do our part to do this forward. You have my assurance that this commitment begins and ends with first responders at this point, and as we know more we will perhaps come back and seek further advice (for the Town Council) as to whether we want to play an ongoing role.”

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