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Maine will allow all adults to get COVID-19 booster shots in an effort to stem the wave of the delta variant as the state recorded its highest single-day number of cases Wednesday along with record hospitalizations.
All people aged 18 and older are now eligible to receive a booster shot if it has been at least six months since their second Moderna or Pfizer dose. Adults who had received the Johnson & Johnson vaccine were previously eligible for boosters two months after their shot.
Maine joins several other states, including California, Colorado and New Mexico, in allowing boosters for all adults. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention previously recommended boosters only for people aged 65 and older, those with pre-existing medical conditions or at high risk due to their occupation, though federal regulators indicated they might expand eligibility as soon as this week.
More than 178,000 Mainers have already received booster doses, according to state data, but uptake rates remain relatively low even among eligible groups. Among Mainers over 70, roughly 40 percent have received a booster so far.
“With Maine and other New England states confronting a sustained surge, and with cold weather sending people indoors, we want to simplify the Federal government’s complicated eligibility guidelines and make getting a booster shot as straightforward and easy as possible,” Gov. Janet Mills said in a release.
Health officials have advocated for booster shots as a way to increase immunity levels among already vaccinated people. The number of virus cases among vaccinated people in Maine has increased in the past few months, although unvaccinated people remain far more likely to test positive and end up severely ill.
Last week, about 1 in every 200 unvaccinated people in Maine tested positive for the virus compared to 1 in every 860 vaccinated people. Maine’s most-vaccinated county, Cumberland County, also maintains the state’s lowest case rate in the past two weeks.