Maine could initially receive about 12,600 doses of Pfizer’s coronavirus vaccine, which is a lower quantity than Gov. Janet Mills initially thought the state was going to receive based on previous communications from the federal government.
That could allow the state to initially vaccinate some 12,600 people in groups designated as high priority — namely health care workers and nursing home residents — once the shots become available as early as mid-December.
However, that is “far less than what is needed for Maine,” Mills said, and the state would then need to receive an additional shipment of 12,600 doses to complete the first round of immunizations, since the Pfizer vaccine requires two different shots a few weeks apart.
For now, state officials are hoping to receive that second allotment of doses, but during a news conference Wednesday, Mills and Nirav Shah — director of the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention — said that the federal government has sent mixed signals about Maine’s initial share of the Pfizer vaccine.
Federal officials have said the pharmaceutical company will make 6.4 million doses available as part of a first shipment in mid-December, assuming it has received emergency authorization by then from the FDA.
At one point, an online dashboard for the federal government’s vaccine distribution briefly showed Maine’s initial share would be as high as 36,000 doses, but it has since dropped, Shah said.
Alex Azar, the U.S. health and human services secretary, has also said the initial shipments would be proportional to each state’s share of the adult population, according to The New York Times. In Maine, that would have translated to roughly double the 12,600 doses the state is now slated to receive.
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“We’re starting to ask harder questions, chief among them: What happened?” Shah said. “Specifically with respect to Maine, did any state get what they were initially told, or even more than that? In other words, is Maine getting short-changed?”
Shah also announced on Wednesday that three people have so far died in connection with the coronavirus outbreak at Island Nursing Home and Care Center in Deer Isle, and that at least 35 residents and 16 workers have so far tested positive.
He also said that the state has begun investigating 11 new coronavirus outbreaks in the previous 48 hours, including at Country Village Assisted Living in Casco (19 cases); Sanford High School (eight cases); Community Living Association in Houlton (eight cases); the Blueprints Learning Center in Lebanon (six cases); the Loving Touch In-Home Care in Bangor (four cases); Biddeford Intermediate School (four cases); Half Pints Preschool and Daycare Center in Waterville (four cases); the Landing at Cape Elizabeth assisted living (three cases); and the Spectrum cable location in Augusta (three cases).