AUGUSTA — An FDA advisory committee voted Tuesday to recommend the Pfizer vaccine for emergency authorization for use on children aged 5 to 11 according to Dr. Nirav Shah, director of the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention.

In his weekly media briefing Wednesday, Oct. 27, Shah said the U.S. CDC advisory committee will meet next Tuesday and Wednesday to make its own recommendation.

If approved by the CDC director, the vaccine could be available for children as soon as next week. Shah said the data he has seen shows the Pfizer vaccine 90% effective for children in this age group.

“When they did get COVID after being vaccinated, their symptoms were milder,” he said. Using a quote he had heard from the president of the American Academy of Pediatrics, “The COVID-19 vaccine offers a tangible opportunity for children to return to a more normal daily life.”

Across the state, Shah said, his agency is working with health care providers, including doctors, pharmacies, community clinics and schools to make COVID vaccines available equitably, quickly and widely across the state.

As of today, he said, 76.1% of all people in Maine have gotten at least one dose, with 70.2% of eligible people fully vaccinated. On a daily basis the state is administering 5,200 COVID-19 doses, which Shah said is a 30% increase from two weeks ago.

First doses have increased by 25% from 588 a week ago to 738 now. Second doses are up by 120% from 1,180 two weeks ago to 2,600 today; and the number of boosters has fallen from 2,130 to 1,850, a drop of 13%.

“Boosters are important, but the primary series shots remain our focus,” he said.

Shah said in the last seven days, teens, along with people in their 20s, 30s and 40s, are getting vaccinated at higher rates and in rural counties.

The areas with the highest growth of vaccinations among teens and people in their 20s are Piscataquis, Washington, Somerset, Aroostook and Sagadahock counties. The counties showing the greatest increase in vaccinations among people in their 30s and 40s are Piscataquis, Penobscot and Washington.

Among people 50 and over, vaccination rates saw an increase of 4.4%, which Shah said was encouraging.

With only two days left before enforcement of the health care vaccination requirement is to begin, Commissioner Jeanne Lambrew of  the Department of Health and Human Services was asked how the agency planned to enforce this statewide rule.

Lambrew said at the end of the month her agency would do a final monthly survey roundup of facilities to see where they are with their vaccination rates. In December, she said, they will convert this data into a monthly compliance report and in addition will deploy random audits and complaint-driven investigations.

Shah said that as of today, seven additional COVID-19 related deaths were reported.

One person was from Cumberland County, one was from Kennebec County, three were from Penobscot County, and two were from Somerset County. Three were women and four were men. Three were in their 50s, one was in their 60s, one was in their 70s an two were in their 80s.

Across the state there were 620 additional cases of the disease ,with 209 people currently hospitalized. This, he said, is an increase of 24% from two weeks ago, when there were only 168 people hospitalized. There are 74 people currently in intensive care units, up from 60 two weeks ago. Thirty-four people are on currently on ventilators, up from 29 two weeks ago.

As of today, he said, there are 46 available ICU beds across the state.

filed under: