New COVID-19 vaccination sites – including Walgreens pharmacies around the state – are being added weekly in Maine. The prospect of another type of vaccine could further boost the number of doses arriving in Maine.

Here are answers to some of the many questions about the state vaccination program. Have others? Email them to [email protected].

With vaccines becoming more widely available, should I hold out to get a shot made by a particular manufacturer?

The Food and Drug Administration could approve a third COVID-19 vaccine within days, now that the agency has concluded that the one-shot vaccine developed by Johnson & Johnson offers strong protection against serious illness and death.

On a purely numerical basis, J&J’s shot was less effective (72 percent in the U.S. and 66 percent in South Africa) than the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines that are currently being injected into arms across Maine (94 and 95 percent effective, respectively). That efficacy gap has some eligible Mainers already asking if they should you try to hold out for doses of Moderna or Pfizer.

Dr. Nirav Shah, director of the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention, offered Mainers the same advice he says he’s given to his mother and other relatives.

“You should get the very first COVID vaccine that is offered to you,” Shah said during his briefing Tuesday. “All three of these vaccines are 100 percent effective at preventing what matters: hospitalizations and death. In the middle of a pandemic, with disease all around us and the potential for spikes again … the best health decision that you can make for yourself is to take the first COVID vaccine that is offered to you.”

Shah acknowledged the disparity among the various vaccines but noted that the various clinical trials as well as the timing of those studies do not lend themselves to apples-to-apples comparisons. For instance, the J&J study occurred at a time and in places experiencing new variants of COVID-19 that hadn’t yet been detected during the Pfizer and Moderna trials.

But Shah pointed out that there were no hospitalizations or deaths among J&J’s vaccine recipients starting 28 days after they got the single shots. The Pfizer and Moderna vaccines were similarly protective after both doses were administered.

“As more vaccines come online, it’s not vaccine against vaccine – it’s vaccine against virus,” Shah said.

I registered with multiple vaccine providers, including MaineHealth, and recently received my first shot at another clinic. Can I take my name off MaineHealth’s list?

Yes you can, by following one of the following processes, depending on where you are in the system.

If you don’t already have an appointment:

Call MaineHealth’s vaccination line at 1-877-780-7545. You will need the phone number you originally used to register as well as your ZIP code and date of birth. When asked if you have an existing appointment, press the number 2 to answer “No.”

At the next prompt, you will be asked whether you have received your first dose of vaccine or are scheduled to receive your shot elsewhere (outside of the MaineHealth). If so, press 1. Or if you are declining to be vaccinated, press 2. Either way, according to MaineHealth officials, your status will be updated within MaineHealth’s registration system so you will no longer be on the list for a first-dose appointment.

If you already have a MaineHealth appointment but no longer need it (because you’ve been vaccinated elsewhere):

Call 1-877-780-7545 and be prepared to provide the phone number you used to register, your ZIP code, date of birth and your appointment information. After entering their phone number, callers will be given the option of changing or canceling an existing appointment. Follow the prompts to cancel the appointment.

The process is likely to change as MaineHealth works to make it more user-friendly. While MaineHealth has been able to fill all existing vaccination slots to date, maintaining an up-to-date registration system will become even more important as eligibility expands and more vaccine supplies arrive in Maine.

What is the status of Maine CDC’s statewide, centralized registration and scheduling system for COVID-19 vaccines?

There’s still no firm timeline from the Maine CDC on a statewide registration to replace (or supplement) the different registration and appointment systems.

Shah said Tuesday that the state was “still a little bit of a ways away” as it works with those vaccine providers on integrating a centralized website and call center into the existing systems.

What is the latest anticipated timeline for vaccinations in Maine?

As of February 26, Maine is using a strictly age-based eligibility system for vaccinations. The timeline listed below could change, depending on the pace of dose deliveries to the state and how quickly clinics are administering shots. But here are the latest estimates:

Currently: All Maine residents age 70 or older as well as medical professionals, public safety workers, COVID-19 response personnel, residents and staff at long-term care homes, assisted living facilities, etc…

Starting March 3: Age 60 and older
April: Age 50 and older

May: Age 40 and older

June: Age 30 and older

July: All ages including children, pending federal approval of vaccines for children


Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or to participate in the conversation. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.

filed under: