All Mainers aged 16 and older will become eligible to get the COVID-19 vaccine beginning Wednesday. Here is everything you need to know about where and how to schedule a vaccine.
How do I find a site near me?
Maine has an official website that lists 200 vaccine sites across the state. You can search by town or county to see which ones are closest to you. If you have limited internet access or need help for any other reason, call 1-888-445-4111.
What information do I need to schedule an appointment?
Whether you are making a vaccine appointment online or over the phone, sites will require some basic information, such as your date of birth. Many will also ask about your health insurance information.
Although the vaccine is free, administering it still costs money, so the provider will likely charge your insurance for those costs. If you do not have health insurance, do not be deterred: Providers are supposed to charge the cost of administering your vaccine to the federal government. If you have insurance but still receive a bill, try contacting your insurer. If it refuses to pay, state officials recommend contacting the Maine Bureau of Insurance.
How do I schedule an appointment with a large hospital?
MaineHealth of Portland and MaineGeneral Health of Augusta — two of the state’s three largest hospital systems — have already been allowing younger Mainers to preregister for the vaccine and get on a waitlist. Both providers will contact eligible individuals in the coming weeks. To sign up for MaineHeath’s waitlist, click here. For MaineGeneral, click here.
A spokesperson for MaineHealth said Thursday that the hospital system is beginning to reach out to eligible individuals on its waitlist for appointments on a first-come, first-serve basis, starting with those who preregistered the earliest. As of Thursday, about 45,000 people were on the hospital’s waitlist.
Northern Light Health, which operates the Cross Insurance Center site in Bangor, has no waiting list. Eligible individuals may sign up on its website as appointments are available. View appointments online here, or call 207-204-8551.
Central Maine Medical Center, which operates a mass vaccination site in Auburn, also has online registration and no waitlist. People can sign up online here or by calling 207-520-2917. CMMC also asks patients to fill out two forms (found here and here) and bring them to the appointment.
How do I schedule an appointment at a pharmacy?
Five pharmacy chains — with a combined more than 120 locations — now offer the vaccine in Maine: Walmart, Sam’s Club, Walgreens, Hannaford and Shaw’s. Each has a slightly different online registration system. None are accepting appointments for Mainers under 50 at this time, but they will begin to next week.
Walgreens’ online system requires you to create an account, or sign into an existing account, which you may have if you have shopped or filled a prescription at Walgreens before. You will have to certify that you are a Maine resident eligible for a vaccine and will be directed to a list of Walgreens locations with vaccines in your area. Schedule an appointment with Walgreens here.
Walmart and Sam’s Club also require you to sign into an existing account or create a guest account. After that, you will have to certify that you are eligible and then can schedule an appointment. Get started with Sam’s Club here and Walmart here.
Hannaford and Shaw’s do not require an account. Each requires you to certify you are eligible and enter your zip code, after which you will be shown potential appointment times. Schedule Shaw’s here and Hannaford here (click the “Maine” tab under the instructions).
What are my other options for scheduling an appointment?
In addition to major hospital sites and retail pharmacies, there are more than 50 other smaller vaccine sites. Some providers are only offering vaccines to their patients right now. If you are a patient at one of these health care providers, they may contact you directly to let you know that you are eligible. Others are open to the public and may require you to call or fill out a form online. Consult the state website for site-by-site details.
What do I need to bring to my appointment?
You should bring some form of identification as well as proof that you are a Maine resident. If you have a Maine drivers’ license, that can serve both purposes. If not, you can bring a utility bill, paycheck stub or other official document with your name and address on it to prove your residency. If you have health insurance, you should also bring your insurance card.
What if I need help getting to my appointment?
For those who lack access to transportation, Maine is offering rides to vaccine appointments, Monday through Saturday between 7 a.m. and 4 p.m. Call 1-855-608-5172. You must schedule your appointment first, and call at least 48 hours in advance of the appointment to be ensured a ride.
What if I prefer a certain type of vaccine?
Nirav Shah, director of the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention, has repeatedly advised Mainers to get whatever vaccine is most immediately available to them. All three vaccines have been shown to be 100 percent effective in preventing severe illness and death due to COVID-19.
In clinical trials, the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines were shown to be upwards of 90 percent effective in preventing even mild cases of the virus, while the Johnson & Johnson vaccine was 66 percent effective, although the trials were conducted at different times in different countries and are not perfectly comparable. The Johnson & Johnson vaccine has the convenience of requiring only one shot, rather than two for the others.
If you have a preference as to which vaccine you get, some providers, such as Northern Light Health, make it clear on their website which sites offer which vaccines. Among retail pharmacies, Hannaford has mostly been offering Johnson & Johnson shots. Walgreens has recently offered Pfizer. Walmart has mostly Moderna.
If the vaccine is not immediately apparent as you register, you may also be able to tell what you are getting based on whether and when the provider asks you to return for a second dose — the gap for the Pfizer vaccine is 21 days, while it is 28 days for Moderna.
Does my teenager need my help to book an appointment?
In Maine, children younger than 18 need permission from a parent or guardian to get vaccinated, including for the COVID-19 vaccine. Right now, only the Pfizer vaccine has been authorized for 16- and 17-year-olds. No vaccines are approved for younger children.
Some providers are still working on a consent form for minors, so teenagers and parents may need to wait a bit longer before vaccines are available. Once those forms are ready, providers offering the Pfizer vaccine will be able to schedule appointments for 16- and 17-year-olds.