AUGUSTA, Maine — Maine will get 8,000 fewer COVID-19 vaccine doses next week compared to this week after states were told they would get no new Johnson & Johnson shots.
A decline had been expected by states after the new one-dose vaccine’s rollout this week. But Maine did not expect a full drop-off after it expanded eligibility on Wednesday to teachers, school staff and childcare workers under an order from President Joe Biden, who pledged that the U.S. will have enough doses to vaccinate every adult by May.
This week, Maine will get nearly 18,000 doses of the Pfizer vaccine and nearly 16,000 doses from Moderna through its regular federal allocation. Without any new Johnson & Johnson vaccines, the allocation will be roughly 8,100 lower than it was this week, the state said. That does not count federally controlled doses sent to retail pharmacy chains and other clinics.
Supply of the vaccine was long expected to dip after a first week in which 3.9 million doses of the new vaccine were delivered across the country and 11,000 in Maine, but Nirav Shah, the director of the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention, said while he expected a reduction, he did not expect a total drop-off. He called it an “operational challenge.”
“It suffices to say — and [Department of Health and Human Services] Commissioner [Jeanne] Lambrew have underscored the point — that it adds to the challenge that we’re facing statewide,” said Nirav Shah, the director of the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention.
Governors have been told by the federal government they will get no new doses next week, then a little to none the following week, then more in the last week of March, a Biden administration spokesperson said. A request for comment to Johnson & Johnson was not immediately returned.
Johnson & Johnson delivered an initial shipment of 3.9 million nationwide this week. The Biden administration said the company’s supply could be at 4 million and 6 million weekly doses by the last week of March. It had promised 20 million vaccines in the U.S. by the end of March.
Maine got 11,000 doses in that shipment this week. They mostly went to small hospitals and public safety departments because they can be stored in normal refrigerators, unlike the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines that require freezers. Others went to independent pharmacies vaccinating in long-term care facilities and outpatient health providers.
Other states made similar announcements to Maine’s this week, including Missouri, which said on Tuesday that it would receive no new Johnson & Johnson doses until the last week of March.