All adults in Maine will be eligible for the coronavirus vaccines by Monday, April 19, Gov. Janet Mills announced Friday as she accelerated the state's vaccination timeline to make more people eligible earlier.
People age 60 and older are already eligible for the vaccine. Eligibility will expand to people 50 and older on March 23 and all adults on April 19, the Mills administration said.
The accelerated timeline comes as some Maine vaccine providers are reporting availability of appointments and as Maine anticipates an increase in vaccine supply from the federal government.
Vaccination for residents aged 50 and older was previously scheduled to begin on April 1, and for all adults on May 1.
“Maine has been working around the clock to get as many people vaccinated as quickly as possible. As we continue to make progress, and with more appointments becoming available and an increase in supply expected in the coming weeks, we believe it is appropriate to accelerate our timeline and make more people eligible earlier,” Mills said in a statement.
She urged Mainers to keep in mind that it may take some time to get an appointment after becoming eligible.
With nearly two out of every three Maine residents age 60 and older already protected with at least one dose of vaccine, the commissioner of the Maine Department of Health and Human Services said they are prepared to open up appointments to even more people.
“As more vaccine becomes available in the coming days and weeks, we’ll continue to work with our valued partners throughout the state to match eligible Maine people, particularly those who are at high risk, with those doses and move Maine closer to recovery," Commissioner Jeanne Lambrew said in a statement.
The Director of the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention, Dr. Nirav D. Shah, said weekly vaccine allocations are expected to increase in the near future, allowing them to move ahead with vaccinating all Maine adults.
“The fine work of vaccination clinics throughout Maine makes it possible to get shots into the arms of more residents sooner than originally projected,” Shah said in a statement.
The new vaccine schedule is as follows:
- March 3: Age 60 and older
- March 23: Age 50 and older
- April 19: All Maine residents age 16 and older
Mills announced the state's age-based vaccination approach on Feb. 26.
To date, more than 352,000 people in Maine have received their first dose of the vaccine – more than 26% of the state's population. And nearly 16% are fully vaccinated.
According to Maine officials, 165,000 people will become eligible for vaccines in the 50-59 age group, and roughly 483,000 are in the 16-49 age group.
Asked what might change in terms of logistics to get all those people shots in a timely way, Shah said he expected a scaling-up of existing mass clinics to happen soon, with other new clinics coming online, as well.
He also said the state would likely work with other entities such as local EMS and fire departments in a push to offer more drive-thru vaccine clinics after a few were recently trialed in places like Buxton and Old Orchard Beach.
"We see those as a larger component, particularly for the use of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine," he explained.
To find a vaccination site, visit the state’s vaccine website at maine.gov/covid19/vaccines.