The COVID-19 Vaccine Distribution Plan in Maine

Posted on 04/08/21 by Andy Markowitz

En español | Who can get vaccinated now?

  • Mainers 16 and older
Vaccine Clinc

Where can I get a vaccine?  

  • Hospitals, health centers and community clinics. Health systems and medical facilities are scheduling vaccination appointments at nearly 80 sites. Check the state’s online list of vaccination sites to find locations and scheduling information for providers near you. You can also sign up with the state’s registration system to get notified when appointments are available at participating sites. Because many vaccination clinics are not using the state system, health officials recommend that Mainers who have registered with the state also check for appointments directly with other providers.

  • Mass vaccination sites. Large-scale clinics are being held at:

    • Auburn Mall (operated by Central Maine Healthcare, register here or call 207-520-2917)

    • Augusta Civic Center (operated by MaineGeneral Health, register here or call 866-968-8219)

    • Portland Expo, Cross Insurance Center in Bangor and Piscataquis County Ice Arena in Dover Foxcroft (operated by Northern Light Health, register here or call 207-204-8551)

    • The former Scarborough Downs racetrack and a former Marshall’s store in Sanford (operated by MaineHealth, call or text 877-780-7545)
  • Retail pharmacies. More than 120 Walmart, Sam’s Club, Walgreens, Hannaford and Shaw’s stores are providing shots to eligible Mainers. Follow the links to schedule appointments. You’ll need to create an account with your name and email to get a vaccine through Walmart or create a guest account to go through Sam’s Club (club membership not required).

  • A federally supported mobile vaccination unit will begin providing shots April 12 in rural and underserved communities in southern and eastern Maine. Starting at the Oxford Casino in Oxford, the traveling clinic will make 10 more stops through June 12, offering the one-shot Johnson & Johnson vaccine. Call 888-445-4111 to check on appointment availability.

  • Maine Community Vaccination Line: If you are homebound, lack internet access, need language assistance or require other help arranging vaccination, call 888-445-4111 . The hotline is open 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. weekdays and 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.

  • The state health department has a free transit service for people who need rides to vaccine appointments, available Monday through Saturday from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. Call 855-608-5172 at least 48 hours before your scheduled shot to reserve a ride.

  • Veterans Affairs facilities are vaccinating veterans, spouses and veteran caregivers. Those enrolled in the VA health care system get priority; additional appointments will go to others who are eligible based on their age, health problems and other factors that increase their COVID-19 risk. Sign up with VA to get updates on vaccine availability and to be notified when you can make an appointment.

  • Vaccine supplies remain limited in many areas. Most vaccine sites require you to schedule an appointment online or by phone. Appointments can be hard to get, as available time slots may be booked quickly, and you might be put on a waiting list. You can sign up at multiple sites to increase your chances of getting an appointment, but once you have confirmed a slot at one site, public health officials ask that you don’t schedule with any other provider so that those slots stay open for others.

AARP recommends that you talk to your doctor about the safety, effectiveness, benefits and risks of the COVID-19 vaccine. Older adults, especially those with underlying medical conditions such as heart disease and diabetes, are at increased risk for hospitalization and death from COVID-19.

What should I bring to my vaccination appointment?

Some vaccination sites ask for proof of identity or eligibility. Officials recommend that you bring a driver’s license or other state-issued ID that shows your name, age and state residency, and your health insurance card, if you have one. You will not be charged, but the vaccine provider may bill your insurer a fee for administering the vaccine.

If you are prioritized because of an underlying medical condition or based on your work, you may need a note from your doctor, a pay stub or badge, or some other form of proof. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says to wear a mask at your appointment. 

How are nursing home and other long-term care residents getting vaccinated? 

Most residents and staff of long-term care facilities in Maine are being vaccinated through a federal program that contracted with CVS and Walgreens to administer COVID-19 vaccines at free on-site clinics. Apart from a very small number of outstanding clinics, the program is complete.

To ensure long-term care facilities still have access to COVID-19 vaccines — for new residents or staff, or for residents and staff who were initially hesitant to receive the shots — the federal government is continuing to allocate vaccines to pharmacies partnered with long-term care facilities.

Which vaccines require a second shot?

The  COVID-19 vaccines  from Pfizer and Moderna require two doses. If you get one of these, you’ll need a follow-up dose to be effectively immunized. The recommended second-shot date is three weeks after a first dose of the Pfizer vaccine and four weeks for Moderna’s, but the U.S. CDC says an interval of up to six weeks is acceptable. You should get a card from your provider stating when and where to return for the second dose. The state says it will send reminders via text, emails and phone calls.   

Johnson & Johnson’s vaccine requires just one shot.  

Pfizer’s vaccine is authorized for people 16 and older, while the Johnson & Johnson and Moderna vaccines are authorized for those 18 and older.

It’s not yet known how long immunity from a coronavirus vaccine lasts and whether it needs to be administered on a regular basis like a flu shot. Visit the CDC's COVID-19 vaccines page for more information.

Do I have to pay for the vaccination? 

You should not have any out-of-pocket cost for getting the vaccine. AARP fought to make sure the federal government is covering the cost of the vaccine itself. Providers can recoup a fee for administering the shot, but not from consumers. They would be reimbursed by the patient’s insurance company or the government (in the case of Medicare and Medicaid beneficiaries and the uninsured, for example).

Scammers are purporting to offer COVID vaccines and treatments and trying to charge for them. AARP's Fraud Watch Network is tracking the latest scams.

What should I do with my vaccine card?

You should get a small white card at your vaccination appointment with your name, birth date, name of the vaccine you received and the date it was administered. If you receive the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine, bring your card when you get your second shot.

You may need your vaccine card for certain kinds of travel or other activities, so keep it in a safe place. You can take a photo of it with your smartphone for your own records. Experts say that posting a photo of your card to social media could make you vulnerable to identity theft. If you lose your card or did not receive one, contact your vaccine provider or your local health department to get a copy.

Should I still wear a mask after getting vaccinated?

Yes. Experts are still learning about how vaccines affect the spread of COVID-19, so the CDC still recommends taking precautions while in public — including wearing masks, social distancing, and avoiding crowds and poorly ventilated spaces. Scientists are also studying the effectiveness of the vaccines against new, more contagious strains of the coronavirus.

It takes two weeks to build immunity after the single-dose shot and the second dose of the two-dose shots. After that, fully vaccinated individuals can gather indoors with other fully vaccinated people without wearing a mask or staying 6 feet apart, the CDC says. They can also gather indoors with unvaccinated people from one other household without masks, unless any of them are at a high risk for severe COVID-19.

This guide, published Dec. 24, was updated April 8 with new information on vaccination in long-term care facilities.

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This story is provided by AARP Maine. Visit the AARP Maine page for more news, events, and programs affecting retirement, health care, and more.

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Find information about getting a COVID-19 vaccine in your state. CDC information is available at cdc.gov/coronavirus; additional AARP information and resources are at aarp.org/coronavirus. En español, visite aarp.org/elcoronavirus.

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