Teachers, staff and child care providers are now eligible to receive COVID-19 vaccinations in Maine, regardless of age, following a presidential directive Tuesday.

Maine Health and Human Services Commissioner Jeanne Lambrew said Thursday, March 4, at the Center of Disease Control and Prevention media briefing, that this new directive will be administered through the retail partnership at Walgreens, Walmart, and Hannaford Supermarkets.

The new eligibility group includes pre-primary, primary and secondary schools, Head Start and Early Head Start programs, teachers, staff, bus drivers, and those who work as or for licensed child care providers, including center-based and family care providers.

The retail chains must give available slots to this new eligibility group, she said, while still providing for Mainers 60 and over. In all, this group represents roughly 50,000 people across the state, according to Lambrew.

Maine CDC Director Dr. Nirav Shah said the B1351 variant originally identified in South Africa was detected in an individual from Cumberland County recently, this on top of three UK variants identified a few weeks back.

“The presence of the UK and South African variants underscores the need to keep up with wearing a mask and keep with distance measures,” he said. “It is the safest thing we can do to keep yourself, your family and your community safe.”

Shah also encouraged people to get vaccinated, when their turn is up, and “don’t say no.”

Speaking about vaccinations, Shah said cumulatively 375,596 COVID-19 doses have been administered in the state with 244,700 first doses and 130,898 second or final doses. This represents 9.74% of the population has been fully vaccinated, he said.

Next week Maine has been allocated 17,550 first doses of the Pfizer vaccine and 13,700 first doses of the Moderna. Because Johnson & Johnson “cleared their shelves” once they received approval for emergency use, the state will not receive any of this vaccine next week.

In all, Maine will receive 31,250 first doses, which represent 10,000 fewer than were received this week. This total does not reflect the federal allotment to the retail partners he said.

Shah said the CDC is hoping the March and April rollout of supply will increase, but added that next week “will be a challenge.”

Addressing President Biden's goal of vaccinating everyone by May, Shah said he was encouraged by the plan, but that for the foreseeable seven days, "we are seeing a decline" in vaccines.

"It may not be by the end of May that all people are vaccinated," he said. "It all depends on the supply pipeline."

For a complete list of vaccination sites, visit maine.gov/covid19/vaccines/vaccination-sites.