Mainers 16 and older become eligible for COVID-19 vaccine Wednesday

Thu, 04/01/2021 - 2:45pm

    AUGUSTA — Governor Janet Mills announced Thursday all Maine residents age 16 and older will be eligible for a COVID-19 vaccine beginning Wednesday, April 7.

    The acceleration of Maine’s vaccination timeline by a week and a half comes as Maine is expected to receive a significant increase in vaccine supply from the federal government.

    Vaccination for residents age 16 and older had previously been scheduled to begin April 19.

    “Maine continues to get as many people vaccinated as quickly as possible. With the Federal government significantly increasing our supply of vaccines, it is appropriate to accelerate our timeframe and make all Maine people eligible beginning next Wednesday,” said Governor Janet Mills. “While this is a great step forward, Maine people should keep in mind that even though they are eligible it will still take time to get an appointment and get a vaccine. We will continue to work with vaccine providers across Maine to get shots into arms as quickly as we can.” 

     “With nearly three out of every five Maine residents age 50 and older having now received at least one dose of vaccine, we’re prepared to open up appointments to even more Maine people,” said Jeanne Lambrew, Commissioner of the Maine Department of Health and Human Services. “In the coming days and weeks, we’ll continue to work with our valued partners throughout the state to connect eligible Maine people with doses, particularly those who are at high risk or face barriers to vaccination, which will help move Maine closer to recovery.”  

    “The fine work of vaccination clinics throughout Maine makes it possible to get shots into the arms of more residents sooner than originally projected,” said Dr. Nirav D. Shah, Director of the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention. “With consistently higher weekly vaccine allocations, we can move ahead with vaccinating all Mainers 16 and older.”

    As with all changes in eligibility, it will take some time for some vaccine clinics to begin to schedule appointments and administer COVID-19 vaccines.

    Some vaccine sites may now begin accepting appointments for newly eligible residents, while others are preparing to offer appointments in the coming days.

    The Pfizer vaccine is authorized for individuals ages 16 and 17, but consent from a parent or legal guardian is required to vaccinate children.

    To date, more than 420,000 Maine people have received their first dose of the vaccine — almost 32 percent of our population, with nearly 20 percent being fully vaccinated. 59 percent of Maine people 50 and older have received their first dose, with almost 36 percent being fully vaccinated.

    Maine is currently fourth best nationwide for the percentage of its population with at least one dose of vaccine and currently ranks seventh best nationwide for the percentage of its population fully vaccinated, according to a news release. 

    Despite having the oldest median age population in the country, Maine, adjusted for population, ranks third lowest in the total number of COVID-19 cases and fourth lowest in the number of deaths from COVID-19, according to the U.S. CDC.

    The state’s seven-day positivity rate is the seventh lowest in the nation, according to Johns Hopkins testing tracker.

    Adjusted for population, Maine’s seven-day testing volume is the seventh highest in the nation.

    Additionally, according to Moody’s Analytics and CNN Business’s “Back to Normal Index”, Maine is best in New England in returning to pre-pandemic economic activity.

    Maine people may pre-register to be notified when appointments are available at vaccinateME.maine.gov. If you need help getting information about pre-registering or scheduling an appointment, call the Maine COVID-19 Community Vaccination Line at 1-888-445-4111.

    Additionally, the Department of Health and Human Services is offering a free option for Maine people who need a ride to and from a COVID-19 vaccination appointment. Individuals should call 1-855-608-5172 to reserve a ride.