Valerie DeMerchant, a Hannaford pharmacist at Elm Plaza in Waterville, injects James Merrill of Yarmouth with the Johnson & Johnson single-dose COVID-19 vaccine on Friday. Michael G. Seamans/Morning Sentinel

Maine’s COVID-19 vaccination program has administered a new average high of more than 10,000 doses per day over the past seven days, even as the state prepares for a smaller vaccine delivery this week than last.

Maine’s seven-day daily average was 10,442 doses per day on Monday, up from about 7,000 to 7,500 per day from Feb. 10-28, thanks to a recent boost in supply from the federal government.

Dr. Nirav Shah, Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention director, said in a tweet Monday that this represents a “36 percent acceleration in vaccine throughput in the past week alone.” Maine has also expanded the number of mass vaccination clinics in recent weeks, adding sites at the Portland Expo and the former Marshalls in Sanford among others, and vaccinations are now being given at many Hannaford supermarket pharmacies.

But Maine will receive fewer doses this week, about 45,250 compared to 55,060 a week ago. That number is still  more than the 39,060 doses delivered two weeks ago, and much higher than the 18,000 weekly doses the state was receiving several weeks ago.

While Moderna and Pfizer vaccine deliveries increased by about 5,000 doses this week, shipments of the new Johnson & Johnson vaccine declined from 15,000 to just 500. The drop-off in Johnson & Johnson doses was expected as the Biden administration “cleared the shelves” of the new vaccine shortly after it was approved for emergency use by the Food and Drug Administration, and it will take a few weeks for production to ramp back up.

Of the 45,250 doses this week, 33,500 are for the state vaccination program, which includes the mass vaccination sites and other clinics throughout Maine.

The remaining 11,750 doses are for the federal retail pharmacy program and will go to Walmart, Sam’s Club, Walgreens and Hannaford pharmacies. Those doses will be set aside for school staff and day care workers following Gov. Janet Mills’ announcement last week that age restrictions have been lifted for those groups. The Biden administration made educators a priority recently in an effort to safeguard school employees while moving toward getting students back in classrooms this spring.

The retail pharmacy program is for school staff of all ages. In addition, the Maine CDC is setting up clinics for teachers 60 and older beginning this week.

Last week, some school staff younger than 60 mistakenly gained access and were able to sign up at one of the registration links for those clinics. But the health care organization partnering with the Departments of Health and Human Services and Education to offer those clinics has re-dedicated those appointments to education staff who are 60 and older.

School and child care staff, regardless of age, may seek vaccinations though the federal pharmacy program’s participating pharmacies. All enrolled pharmacy providers are required to set aside all currently un-booked vaccination appointments for teachers, school staff and child care workers through March 31. Slots that remain un-booked 48 hours prior to the appointment, however, may be released to others. Additional vaccine clinics will also begin accepting appointments for school staff and licensed childcare workers as soon as they are able, Maine DOE spokeswoman Kelli Deveaux said in an email Monday.

As the vaccination program ramps up nationally – from about 1.6 million doses per day in mid-February to a seven-day average of 2.1 million per day Monday – Maine’s rank among states for how quickly it is immunizing its population has gotten closer to average. Maine used to typically rank in the top 10 in percentage of population receiving at least a first dose, but is now 16th, according to a state-by-state tracker by Bloomberg News.

Through Monday, 270,423 Mainers had received at least a first dose, about 20.12 percent of the population, and 152,512, or 11.35 percent of the population, had been fully immunized.

The Maine CDC also reported 132 new cases of COVID-19 on Monday, and no additional deaths.

The state’s daily case count has plateaued since late February, with seven-day daily averages in the 160s, including 166.3 Monday. That’s a steep decline from the more than 600 daily cases in mid-January, but the decline has flattened.

Since the pandemic began, there have been 45,926 COVID-19 cases in Maine, and 706 deaths.

COVID-19 hospitalizations in Maine increased slightly Monday to 71, including 20 in critical care and 10 on a ventilator. As with cases, hospitalizations have leveled off in recent weeks after declining steadily from a high of more than 200 in mid-January.

Amid an increase in vaccinations and leveling off of cases, Maine is set to relax its COVID-19 restrictions heading into the summer tourist season. Mills announced last week that residents from New England states are no longer required to quarantine or produce a negative test result upon arriving in Maine. Previously, the only exempt states were New Hampshire and Vermont.

Starting May 1, those relaxed rules will apply to all states, unless Maine places restrictions on specific ones based on increased case counts and other metrics trending in the wrong direction.

Other loosened restrictions include allowing more people at indoor and outdoor gatherings, although spacing and masking requirements remain.

Indoor gatherings will be allowed to operate at 50 percent capacity starting March 26, and at 75 percent on May 24. Outdoor gatherings will go from 75 percent of capacity March 26 to 100 percent on May 24.

Bars and tasting rooms will be allowed to open on March 26.

Staff Writer Rachel Ohm contributed to this story.

Related Headlines


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.