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Health

Mainers 16 And Older Eligible For COVID-19 Vaccination Starting April 7

Richard Burke, June Burke
Robert F. Bukaty
/
AP file
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.

Starting next Wednesday, all Mainers over the age of 16 will be eligible to recieve the COVID-19 vaccine, putting the state well ahead of the national goal of May 1 set by President Joe Biden.

The eligibility expansion was announced at a CDC briefing Thursday. Maine CDC Director Dr. Nivah Shah said the move, which is weeks ahead of schedule, is possible because of an increase in the supply of doses.

“We are getting more vaccine and we have also increased that headroom between our ability to take vaccine and turn it into shots in arms, and that is why we feel comfortable in expanding eligibility in this manner,” he said.

Shah expects Maine will receive over 80,000 doses next week through both the state’s allocation and the supply the federal government is sending to pharmacies and rural health clinics.

Gov. Janet Mills said while more people are being vaccinated, Maine is not out of the woods, citing the arrival of variants of the virus that are more easily transmitted.

“We are still in a race, a race of vaccinations versus the variants, and the variants are here. They are in western Maine, they are in southern Maine. They are spreading to every region of the state,” she said.

Mills stressed patience as newly eligible residents work to schedule appointments to get vaccinated.

The state says nearly three out of five Mainers 50 and older have received at least one vaccine dose so far.

The Maine CDC is reporting 283 new cases of COVID-19 on Thursday and no new deaths.

That brings the total number of cases in the state to 50,787. The death toll remains at 743.

The 7-day average case increase is now 228 — its highest level since early February.

More than 32% Mainers have received the first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine. Maine ranks fourth compared to other states for percent of population vaccinated with one dose.

Maine Public reporter Robbie Feinberg contributed to this story.