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Maine Begins Offering Free Rides To COVID-19 Vaccination Appointments

Robert F. Bukaty
Associated Press
Older Mainers leave a COVID-19 vaccination site operated by Maine Health in the site of a former department store, Wednesday, March 3, 2021, in Sanford, Maine.

The Maine Department of Health and Human Services is partnering with a MaineCare ride contractor to provide free rides to and from COVID-19 vaccination appointments.

ModivCare currently coordinates rides for MaineCare members in select communities, but DHHS Commissioner Jeanne Lambrew says the new service will be offered statewide to anyone with a vaccination appointment who needs a ride.

“ModivCare will in turn partner with community action programs and transportation companies to provide these rides,” she says.

Ride seekers must notify the program 48 hours ahead of time, and may call 1-855-608-5172 for ride reservations.

Maine CDC director Nirav Shah says the volume of vaccines administered in the past week is up more than 35% from the previous week, with over 10,000 shots per day.

So far, more than 156,000 Mainers have received a complete vaccine series.

Shah says the CDC is counting the Johnson & Johnson vaccine within the final dose category because it only requires one shot.

Last week Shah said the state’s vaccination rate had dipped slightly, which he attributed to a lag in the daily reporting of inoculations by providers.

He says the opening of two mass vaccination sites has increased capacity, although the primary constraint on the effort continues to be supply of doses.

Seventeen more Mainers have died with COVID-19, according to the Maine CDC. The state has typically seen single-digit increases in recent months, with similar large spikes attributed to careful review of past death records.

The agency also added 133 cases of the disease on Tuesday. In total, more than 46,000 cases have been identified since the pandemic began.