Maine’s state COVID-19 vaccination program will be getting a substantial boost next week, with 10,010 additional doses, a 28 percent increase over this week.

The additional doses will boost the state’s progress in vaccinating Mainers in their 50s, who became eligible for inoculations on Tuesday.

According to federal data, Maine will get 45,200 doses next week, up from 35,190 doses that were shipped to the state this week.

Most of the increase is due to a boost in supplies from the one-shot Johnson & Johnson vaccine, which went from 1,600 doses last week to 8,100 doses for the week of March 29. Maine is also receiving 23,400 doses of Pfizer and 13,700 doses of Moderna vaccines next week.

In addition, an as-yet-undetermined number of vaccine doses will flow into Maine through a federal retail pharmacy program that includes Walmart, Sam’s Club, Walgreens and Hannaford’s. In recent weeks, Maine has received about 12,000 doses through the retail pharmacy program, which is exclusively vaccinating school staff through March 31.

If the retail pharmacy program continues to receive 12,000 doses or more next week, Maine would in total be approaching about 60,000 doses for next week.

The Biden administration has indicated that vaccine supplies will get much more plentiful the end of March and into April. Maine is getting roughly double the number of weekly doses than it was receiving in early February.

But Robert Long, Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention spokesman, said that it’s unclear whether next week’s boost will continue.

“Our federal partners have given no indication that the projected increases in Pfizer and Johnson & Johnson vaccines next week will be anything more than a one-week bump,” Long said. Pfizer doses are increasing from 19,890 this week to 23,400 next week. Moderna’s 13,700 doses for next week are the same as this week.

“The addition of more Johnson & Johnson doses will support ongoing efforts to vaccinate homebound individuals, long-term care residents and staff who were not vaccinated as part of the retail pharmacy program, and others for whom a single-dose vaccine would be most beneficial,” Long said.

Meanwhile, Maine reported 199 new cases of COVID-19 on Wednesday. There were no additional deaths.

The 199 new cases on Wednesday nearly matches the seven-day average of 200.1, almost identical to the 199.9 seven-day average a week ago but higher than 148.6 a month ago. The seven-day averages of about 200 are still much lower than the more than 600 cases averaged per day in mid-January, in what so far has been the peak of the pandemic in Maine.

Overall, Maine has recorded 48,972 positive COVID-19 tests, and 731 deaths.

The state has set up a website, that will eventually be used to schedule appointments. The new website is currently doing pre-registrations. It will not supplant current systems used by Northern Light Health and MaineHealth to register people for vaccinations at mass immunization sites in Portland, Bangor, Scarborough and Sanford. Rather, the site is expected to be used for smaller vaccination clinics not operated by large health systems.

The state did a “soft launch” of the new website, without any advance publicity, on Tuesday, the same day that Maine residents ages 50 to 59 became eligible for vaccination. The expansion means an additional 164,000 Maine residents can now sign up for shots, as vaccine supply ramps up in Maine, with more doses expected next week.

As of Wednesday, 376,628 Maine people had received at least the first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, representing 28 percent of the state’s 1.3 million population. Also, 228,353, or 17 percent, had received their final dose.

A free transportation program for those who need a ride to a vaccine appointment has given or scheduled 505 trips since the program’s launch on March 9. The phone number for requesting a free ride is 855-608-5172. Rides are available every day except Sundays, 7 a.m. to 4 p.m.

This story will be updated.





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