Dr. Nirav Shah, director of the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention, said Tuesday, March 30, “This has been a good week for Maine.”

This week the state is receiving over 72,000 first doses of COVID-19 vaccine, he said, representing almost a 47% increase over last week.

When asked why there have been open appointments available at vaccination sites and if it was a function of vaccine hesitancy, Shah said it was still too early to tell.

Besides hesitancy, he said, the younger population may not find it easy to get to a vaccination site while working. Providers, he said, are also seeing less demand. Previously, he said, appointments would open and be snatched up in a couple of minutes, whereas “Now is taking a little bit more time.”

“For those 50 and over,” he said, “this is your week. Your dose of COVID vaccine is waiting for you.” He encouraged everyone in this group to make an appointment. This is the week to take advantage of the fact there are shots and appointments available.

The quickest and easiest path to see what sites are available near your location, he said, is to look up “Maine COVID vaccine” on a computer, which will list every facility offering the vaccine in the state. Anyone wishing to call can dial 888-445-4111 to make an appointment and family or friends can call to register on someone's behalf.

If vaccination levels can reach between 75% and 80% of the population, he said, “even those that haven’t been vaccinated will still be afforded the protection.”

Shah said the vaccine also reduces the chance of harboring the virus and passing it on to someone else. In this respect, he said, getting a vaccine protects your health and the people around you.

Defining what it means to be fully vaccinated, Shah said, 14 days after the second dose of Pfizer or the Moderna vaccine, or 14 days after the Johnson & Johnson vaccine. It takes the vaccine around two weeks to get your immune system ready, he said.

After they are fully vaccinated, he said, people can gather in private residences with other vaccinated people without wearing a mask. They can also leave the state and return to Maine without needing to quarantine.

Overall, 676,513 doses of COVID-19 vaccine have been administered in the state, for 417,436 first doses and 259,077 second or final doses.

Since yesterday, 223 new COVID-19 cases were reported across the state. Two additional deaths associated with COVID-19 have been reported in Maine. One person was from Penobscot County and the other was from Oxford. Both were in their 80s — one was a man and the other was a woman. In all, 738 people have died from the virus in Maine since the pandemic began.

Currently 78 people are in the hospital with the disease, 24 in intensive care units and seven on ventilators.

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