Maine places third order for COVID-19 vaccines

Fri, 12/18/2020 - 3:45pm

    AUGUSTA - The Maine Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) announced today that the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention (Maine CDC) has placed a third order for COVID-19 vaccine with Operation Warp Speed and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Maine CDC ordered doses of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine for 8,775 people.

    This third order is approximately 40 percent lower than originally planned, after Operation Warp Speed informed Maine late Wednesday that the maximum number of Pfizer vaccines available to the state for week 2 of distribution is 8,775 doses, rather than the 13,650 doses previously estimated. Operation Warp Speed did not provide Maine with an explanation for the reduced numbers.

    Today's order complements the order for 24,200 Moderna vaccine doses placed on December 11 and the order for 12,675 doses of the Pfizer vaccine placed on December 4. The December 4 order arrived this week and the December 11 order is expected to arrive early next week, if the Moderna vaccine is authorized for emergency use in the next few days.

    • Altogether, Maine expects to receive enough vaccine for 45,650 people in the first two weeks of the distribution.
    • Since COVID-19 vaccination began in Maine on Tuesday, 2,264 frontline health care workers have received the first dose of Pfizer's COVID-19 vaccine.

    Late yesterday, a U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) advisory committee recommended emergency use authorization of the Moderna vaccine. The FDA is now reviewing the advisory committee's recommendation and is expected to issue its authorization within days.

    The last-minute change from Operation Warp Speed to week two of the Pfizer vaccine allocation means Maine will not receive enough of the required minimum of 10,725 doses to fully launch the retail pharmacy program to vaccinate residents and staff of all long-term care facilities in Maine. DHHS will still allocate 3,900 doses in week 2 to continue the skilled nursing facility part of this program, but, regrettably, must delay the program for assisted living facilities and other residential care facilities. Residents and staff of skilled nursing facilities will start to be vaccinated next week, while vaccination at the other long-term care facilities is now expected to begin after the originally planned start date of December 28, 2020. The retail pharmacy program is operated the U.S. CDC and retail pharmacies. Maine DHHS allocates doses to the program but does not play a direct role in distribution of those vaccines to long-term care facilities.

    The remaining 4,875 doses of the Pfizer vaccine for week two will go to hospitals. This is an increase from the 2,295 doses originally planned, resulting from the change to the Pfizer allotment. Maine Medical Center, Northern Light Eastern Maine Medical Center, and MaineGeneral will receive these doses, with some redistribution across hospitals to ensure that critical workers across the state have access to the vaccine.

    While recent developments on potential vaccine approval are promising, questions persist about the federal government's allocation plan and ongoing provision of these lifesaving vaccines. Maine's congressional delegation has asked the Federal government for additional information and greater transparency to help the state plan to vaccinate its residents and contain the pandemic as soon as possible.

    Maine's planning for COVID-19 vaccine distribution began in spring 2020, building on the existing network of vaccine providers throughout the state. In October, Maine CDC submitted the first version of its plan to distribute a COVID-19 vaccine. It also has been working with providers to sign up to administer the vaccine. Maine will update the plan as more is learned about vaccine manufacturing, storage, efficacy in different groups, dosing schedules, as well as other factors that will affect the implementation of vaccination on a large scale. The vaccine distribution framework will also evolve with continued input from health care providers and various communities throughout Maine.

    See the chart details Maine's COVID-19 vaccine orders to date. Week one of distribution is this week (Dec. 13-19, 2020). Maine has received and distributed the first Pfizer allocation. Week two of distribution is next week (Dec. 20-26, 2020). Maine expects to receive the second Pfizer allocation and first Moderna allocation early next week and begin distribution immediately, pending federal authorization of the Moderna vaccine. The weekly allocation to specific sites in this chart will change with redistribution of vaccine doses across sites as noted above.