MaineHealth, the region’s largest integrated health system, began offering limited supplies of COVID-19 vaccines to those 70 years and older beginning today.
MaineHealth officials stressed today, for now, there will be limited supplies of the vaccine and that it expects demand to far exceed the amount of vaccine being allotted through the state. The health system also stressed that demand for scheduling so far has been overwhelming and they ask everyone to be patient as they seek vaccinations.
On Monday, January 18, 2021, the first day MaineHealh’s vaccination call center was fully operational, more than 18,000 individuals called seeking a vaccination, many of them placing multiple calls. As a result MaineHealth is looking at alternatives to manage the high-volume of requests. In the meantime, MaineHealth is asking people NOT to reach out to local MaineHealth practices to try to schedule a vaccination and check www.mainehealth.org/vaccine for the most up to date information.
“…….. Now, with Phase 1A nearing completion, (including health care workers, nursing home residents and staff), there are vaccines available for the Phase 1b group, that includes people over 70 years old…… However, it is expected that the federal government won’t be able to distribute enough vaccines initially to keep up with demand….”
Both the Pfizer and Moderna versions of the vaccine require cold storage and special handling. Vaccine receipients will be observed for a period of time afterwards to monitor against adverse actions. Because of these requirements, vaccinations will not be done through MaineHealth medical practices, but instead at clinics made up specifically to administer the vaccine according to the press release issued this afternoon by John Porter, Assistant Vice President, Systems Communications for Public Affairs, for MaineHealth.