REGION — Maine is steadily ticking upwards with its efforts to vaccinate adults against COVID-19. As of April 5, about 770,000 total vaccines have been administered. Twenty-three percent of Mainers have been completely vaccinated and 35% have received their first shot. The recent approval of Johnson & Johnson’s vaccine, which requires only one shot, is helping get more people vaccinated sooner.
With capacity starting to materialize, Maine’s Center for Disease Control is focused on making sure no doses of any vaccine are wasted. Once a vial of either the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines has been opened, the contents of the vial stay viable for only six hours.
As demand for the first vaccination starts to drop, the Maine CDC has expanded vaccine sign-up eligibility to all Maine residents 16 and older. The Pfizer vaccine has been rated safe for youth at least 16; the Moderna and Johnson & Johnson are approved for those 18 and older. Trials are underway on children younger than 15.
According to the state’s Full Use Policy published by the CDC, vaccination sites may administer left-over doses at the end of a clinic day using the following guidelines: to onsite staff and volunteers, to those in extraordinary circumstances or on an emergency list, and then to those on that site’s waiting list. Mainers should take steps to schedule their vaccine as soon as they are eligible to do so.
Anyone who is called in to be vaccinated ahead of their scheduled date will also be assigned an appointment for their second shot.
Stephens Memorial Hospital is not seeing many instances of people canceling or skipping their vaccine appointments. To date more than 8,200 vaccines have been administered.
“We closely monitor the schedule every day to ensure that we do not waste a dose,” said SMH’s Chief Medical Officer Gregory Hardy in an email statement. “If there is a cancellation, we reach out to patients who are scheduled for a vaccine at a later date to bring them in early. Pulling patients who are scheduled later in the week ensures the patient is eligible and then frees up additional spots to be filled through the online system or call center.”
“Hannaford Pharmacy follows the state’s Full Use Policy, so that if there are any additional dosages at the end of the day that need to be used or go to waste, the stores will administer them to individuals based on that criteria and its priorities,” said Eric Blom, Hannaford’s director of External Communications and Community Relations. “The administration of this vaccine and following of that protocol is done at individual stores, rather than through a central list or system.”
Blom noted that protocols are subject to change as vaccine availability and circumstances continue to evolve.
“Our team is working to be nimble and react quickly as changes occur,” wrote Blom in an email. “What I can say is that we have not seen doses wasted, and we’ll continue to make sure we are good stewards of the vaccine, whether individuals miss appointments in the future.”