Gov. Janet Mills announced Wednesday that Maine will focus on vaccinating police, firefighters, critical COVID response personnel, and those 70 and older.
AUGUSTA, Maine — A day after the federal government recommended that states update their COVID-19 vaccine protocols, Gov. Janet Mills announced Wednesday that additional emergency personnel, those who support the state’s COVID-19 infrastructure, and adults age 70 and older will be prioritized.
The announcement followed recommendations announced Tuesday by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, which recommended vaccinating people most vulnerable to COVID-19 as soon as possible.
Additional emergency first responders and public safety personnel, and critical COVID-19 response personnel are now included in Phase 1a of Maine’s response plan, according to a release. Officials hope to complete Phase 1a by February.
Phase 1B, now slated to begin this month, now includes adults age 70 and older and those with high-risk medical conditions, according to the release. Information about how the vaccine will be available to those people will be available next week, Mills said.
“As we distribute the vaccine and adapt our strategy to meet Maine’s needs, my fundamental goal is to save lives. Maine is predominantly an older state, and we have a large number of people with high-risk medical conditions. These folks are exactly who face the greatest risks from the virus,” Mills said in the release. “Given they are at a greater risk of serious illness or death, it is appropriate to first target the limited supply of vaccine Maine receives to that population.”
“As our vaccination efforts expand to include more at-risk Maine people, velocity and equity continue to guide our planning,” Dr. Nirav D. Shah, Director of the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention, said in the release. “As we await information from our federal partners on how quickly they can provide the vaccine needed for this next phase, we recommend that Maine people continue to wear face masks in public, stay at least 6 feet apart, and avoid non-essential gatherings with people who don’t live with them.”
Watch Mills discuss the changes during Wednesday’s coronavirus briefing here:
Updates to Phase 1a: To date, Maine, like many other states, has closely followed the recommendations of the U.S. CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP), which proposes vaccinating people in a phased-approach given the limited supply of COVID-19 vaccines. Maine is currently in Phase 1a of its vaccine distribution strategy, which is dedicated to protecting health care personnel, such as doctors, nurses, and other health care professionals like emergency medical technicians (EMTs), and residents of long-term care facilities. Beginning this week, Maine is updating Phase 1a to also include:
- Other Emergency First Responders & Public Safety Personnel: These individuals include, among others, firefighters, police and other law enforcement officers, as well as corrections officers. Vaccinating these personnel, along with already-vaccinated health care workers and other emergency first responders like EMTs, will ensure the continuity of emergency health and public safety services for Maine people.
- Critical COVID-19 Response Personnel: These individuals include people who manufacture, distribute, process, or report COVID-19 tests, whose work, if disrupted, would severely hamper the ability of Maine or the United States to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic. More specifically, this includes people who work in-person directly on COVID-19 response at Maine CDC, which spearheads the State’s COVID-19 response, and private companies such as IDEXX, which supports Maine’s COVID-19 testing capabilities; Abbott Laboratories, which manufactures COVID-19 tests for use in Maine and across the nation; Puritan Medical Products, which manufacturers swabs for COVID-19 tests; and Jackson Laboratories, which is…
Source Website Maine updates COVID-19 vaccine rollout plan