LEWISTON — The two local hospitals are sharing a shipment of roughly 1,000 doses of the Pfizer vaccine from the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention that arrived in the city early Tuesday.

Administration of the vaccines could start as early as this afternoon and is expected to continue for the next couple of days.

St. Mary’s Regional Medical Center and Central Maine Medical Center have teamed up to parcel out the doses according to their respective numbers of employees who deal directly with patients diagnosed or suspected of having COVID-19, workers with “high-risk scenarios,” according to St. Mary’s spokesman Stephen Costello.

He said the vaccines will be administered to the hospital staff who work on COVID-19 ward at St. Mary’s, where there were nine patients on Monday.

The hospital has been averaging about six patients per day over the past couple of weeks, he said, compared to the summer when there were often none in keeping with the current national surge.

The Maine CDC is expected to set aside the same number of follow-up vaccines specifically for each hospital in about three weeks, Costello said.


On Tuesday morning, St. Mary’s was putting together a list of frontline workers to be vaccinated based on how much interaction they have with COVID-19 patients or patients suspected of having the virus.

“Obviously, we have to be careful about not vaccinating too many people from the same area at the same time in case” any of them have an adverse reaction to the vaccine, he said.

“We don’t want to have our whole (emergency department) nursing staff out at the same time,” he said.

For that reason, the administration of vaccinations given to the same type of workers in the same department will be staggered over a period of a few days, he said.

“So, if someone’s going to be out, we just want to make sure that we’re not in a situation where we don’t have enough of those employees from that department,” he said.

Included in the frontline workers getting the vaccine, besides doctors and nurses, will be members of the cleaning crew, patient intake and screeners at the entrance to the COVID-19 ward, he said.


“It’s kind of a wide variety of people,” he said. “We always think of the doctors and the nurses, but there’s a whole bunch of other people behind the scenes that also are on the frontline as well.”

Staff appear to be less concerned about possible side effects of the vaccine, “which seem to be pretty minimal and minor,” than the possibility of contracting the virus, he said.

“I would say that most of the people on the frontline who see what can happen with people who have a bad case of COVID, are going to be eager to get it,” he said. But the vaccination is optional. No staff member will be required to get the vaccine.

This story will be updated.

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