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J & J vaccine supply down for next several weeks

319 new COVID-19 cases reported across Maine
By Fran Gonzalez | Apr 08, 2021

Augusta — Dr. Nirav Shah, director of the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention, said Thursday, April 8, the state allocation of Johnson & Johnson vaccine doses for the next several weeks will be lower than recently.

Next week, Shah said, the state will receive 2,500 doses of Johnson & Johnson vaccine, a decrease of 18,100 doses. Maine is estimated to receive similar amounts for the weeks of April 12 and 19.

"As we have talked about, the J & J supply is going to fluctuate," Shah said. "It has fluctuated and it will continue to fluctuate, unlike the supply of Moderna and Pfizer."

Because of this decrease, some groups, such as emergency medical technicians who were poised to go into the field, will not be able to do so, he said. The supply of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine is expected to pick up by the end of the month.

"What does all this mean?" he said. "It means demand still outstrips the supply we are getting."

Next week, Maine is scheduled to receive 19,980 Pfizer and 14,300 Moderna doses from the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Yesterday, Shah said, 15,828 doses of COVID-19 vaccine were administered throughout the state. "This is solid progress," he said.

A total of 823,594 doses have been administered, including 483,293 first doses and 340,301 final doses. In the 16-and-over age group, 43% have had at least their first dose, he said.

This is because the state is currently receiving more supply than earlier in the year, Shah said, and also because facilities have ramped up capacity to administer this increase in supply.

Two weeks ago, the state was administering 11,184 doses a day; today that number is 15,828, a 40% increase of the daily administration rate, he said.

The partnership with the Federal Emergency Management Agency on the mobile vaccination program will begin Monday, April 12, at the Oxford Casino.

While appointments for Monday and Tuesday are full, Shah said, spots are available on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday. If traveling to Oxford Casino is an option, Shah recommended people call the community vaccination hotline at 888-445-4111.

He suggested that if more than one appointment is made, people should the clinic know they will not be there for both, so others can fill available slots.

Addressing concerns about the vaccinations, he said being fully vaccinated will give people at least six months of protection against the virus. "Most scientists believe it will last substantially longer," he said, adding that there might be a need for a booster shot in the future.

Shah said people who have gotten COVID-19 and recovered should still receive a shot, because the vaccine "seems to be stronger than what your own body produces after it has been exposed to COVID."

One exception to this is if those currently infected with the virus. Shah said they should wait until safely out of isolation to get vaccinated, "partly so you do not infect anyone."

Another exception is those who have been treated for COVID-19 with monoclonal antibodies or convalescent plasma. These people should wait at least 90 days after their final treatment, he said, before they get their shot.

Shah said there is currently an outbreak at Bates College in Lewiston, where 75 cases have been reported and a campus-wide quarantine is in place.

One additional death was reported — a woman in her 70s from Sagadahoc County. A total of 748 people have died in Maine with COVID-19 since the pandemic began.

Since yesterday, 319 new cases were reported. Currently there are 78 people hospitalized with the disease; 30 in intensive care units and 10 on ventilators.

Shah said the average age of people contracting the disease is inching down. In December 2020, the average age of people getting COVID-19 was 44, in March it was 37.

"Masks are as critical now as ever before," he said. "Now is not the time to chuck your mask."

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