I am writing to ask that Gov. Janet Mills direct the Maine CDC to follow the lead of other states and prioritize COVID-19 vaccine distribution for older adults in Maine. The current recommendations advise that the federal and state governments prioritize adults over the age of 75, along with frontline essential workers, to be next in line for COVID-19 vaccines.

Vermont, Texas, Florida, South Dakota and Tennessee have deviated from the ACIP (Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices) recommendations citing concerns that COVID-19 presents particular risks to older populations. Given the disproportionate burden of death that the older adult community in Maine has experienced from COVID, we strongly urge Gov. Mills to consider a similar approach. We know that 80% of all COVID-19 deaths nationally have occurred in adults 65 and older.

As the oldest state in the nation, Maine must honor its obligation to save as many lives as possible; this can only be done by prioritizing those at highest risk of death. We are confident that the State will eventually receive additional doses of vaccine that can be made next available to additional at-risk groups, but efforts to protect this group should not be made at the expense of jeopardizing older adults who are at greatest immediate risk of death.

We urge Gov. Mills and Maine DHHS to follow the lead of other similar states and prioritize adults 65 and older as their next priority for receiving COVID vaccines.

Jean Saunders, RN MSN MPH
executive director
Age Friendly Saco

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