More Maine residents are another step closer to being vaccinated more quickly, as Walgreens stores are now offering the shots to eligible people in the state.
As of Thursday, that includes people 70 and older, patient-facing health care personnel, long-term care facility staff, public safety personnel and coronavirus response personnel.
The 47 Walgreens stores that are online as vaccine sites are put of the federal partnership network and will get doses of vaccine from the national supply.
Asked about how the additional stores will change Maine’s current vaccine rollout strategy, Maine Center for Disease Control & Prevention Director Dr. Nirav Shah said “access is the impact.”
“Among the reasons we are working with Walmart and Walgreens is the geographic breadth of where they are across the state of Maine,” he added.
According to Jeanne Lambrew, Maine’s commissioner of the Department of Health and Human Services, less populated areas of the state will be among the largest beneficiaries of the program.
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“We were really struggling with Oxford County,” said Lambrew, explaining the difficulty the state has had in setting up rural vaccine sites.
“The Walgreens in Oxford County, by themselves, without additional sites, goes a long way towards vaccinating people in Oxford County given its small size,” she added.
As for patient feedback, officials at Maine’s CDC and DHHS say they are getting positive e-mails and messages and people are telling them that signs-ups have been easy.
“The efficiency of the process is something folks have liked,” Shah said, adding that “the fact that it’s a neighborhood, a place that they were otherwise going to pick up prescriptions,” has been touted as a benefit too.
This week, Maine Walgreens stores are expected to get 4,680 doses of the Pfizer vaccine.
State officials believe that number will go up slightly next week.