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Mainers 16 and older eligible for COVID-19 vaccine next week

By Fran Gonzalez | Apr 01, 2021

Augusta — Gov. Janet Mills said Thursday, April 1, at the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention briefing that Mainers 16 and over will be eligible for COVID-19 shots starting April 7.

The extended age eligibility, which affects approximately 470,000 people, comes nine days after the 50 and over age group became eligible to receive vaccinations.

Mills said the state is still in a race against the variants and encouraged people to get vaccinated and “keep distance from others, wash hands and wear face coverings.”

“It will take time to get appointments,” she said. “Be patient.”

To make an appointment or to find the nearest facility, visit maine.gov/covid19/vaccines/vaccination-sites or call the community vaccination hotline at 888-445-4111.

Dr. Nirav Shah, director of the Maine CDC, said the state received 72,000 doses of COVID-19 vaccine this week, including allocations for retail pharmacies and health centers, and he anticipates additional increases in supply in the coming weeks. Yesterday, he said, the state broke a record, vaccinating more than 20,000 people in one day. “It’s the highest number since we began,” he said.

The state has administered a total of 712,798 doses of the COVID-19 vaccines, including approximately 430,000 first doses and 277,000 second, or final, doses.

Commissioner Jeanne Lambrew of Department of Health and Human Services said the state could be receiving at least 80,000 doses next week.

Shah talked about the recent Johnson & Johnson vaccines produced at a Baltimore facility that must now be thrown out because of an error in production. Maine will still receive 20,600 doses of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine next week, he said. The doses are made in an entirely different facility and are “safe, effective and ready to go.”

“I would not have any hesitation about getting the J & J vaccine,” he said.

Emergency medical service clinicians and independent pharmacies, starting next week, will be receiving allocations of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, Shah said. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will also be activating all retail pharmacy chains in the near future, he said.

Five more deaths were reported since Tuesday's briefing, encompassing people from Cumberland, Kennebec, Oxford, Washington and York counties. Two people were in their 70s, while three were in their 80s. One woman and four men died — two were identified in a review of death certificates. In all, 743 people have died from the disease since the pandemic began.

Since yesterday, Shah said, 283 new cases of COVID-19 were reported in the state. He said the increased number of variants and the fact that people are traveling more were reasons behind the recent uptick in cases.

Currently there are 74 people in the hospital because of COVID-19, he said, with 20 in intensive care units and five on ventilators.

Mills ended the briefing by saying "We're not through this yet," and reminding viewers not to let their guard down.

"We need the help of every person in Maine with precautions in place," she said, and encouraged everyone to get vaccinated.

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