Joe Bruno of Community Pharmacies prepares syringes of the Moderna vaccine before giving shots to employees of Crossroads Maine at the agency’s congregate living rehabilitation facility for women in Windham on Friday. Brianna Soukup/Staff Photographer

Tuesday’s snowstorm will disrupt COVID-19 vaccination clinics in some parts of Maine and could force additional cancellations depending on the storm’s severity.

All of Maine was under a winter storm warning on Monday from a nor’easter that could dump more than a foot of snow on some areas before it winds down late Tuesday or early Wednesday. Emergency management officials also are warning about potential power outages, particularly along the wind-swept coastline.

The pace of COVID-19 vaccinations is quickening in Maine even as the daily case numbers continue to decline, with 219 new cases and five additional deaths reported Monday. But Tuesday’s snowstorm will delay some inoculations at a time when a national shortage of supplies and other factors have contributed to a slower-than-desired rollout of the ambitious vaccination plan.

MaineHealth announced cancellations of Tuesday’s COVID-19 vaccination clinics in Westbrook and those run by Mid Coast Hospital in Brunswick, Western Maine Health/Stephens Memorial Hospital in Norway, LincolnHealth in Boothbay and Waldo County General Hospital in Belfast. Individuals with appointments at those locations on Tuesday will be contacted in order to reschedule within seven days.

The storm is not expected to impact MaineHealth’s planned opening of a mass-vaccination clinic at the former Scarborough Downs harness racing track on Wednesday. Registration and appointments are required for vaccination at the facility.

Despite the storm, Northern Light Health will hold the first day of the hospital network’s high-volume vaccination clinic at the Cross Insurance Center in Bangor on Tuesday.

“If you have preregistered and have an appointment, and can safely get to Cross Insurance Center, we will be there to vaccinate you at your scheduled time,” Northern Light said in a statement on Sunday. “If you are unable to be there due to winter weather, please call Northern Light Health at 207-204-8551.”

InterMed plans to remain open to patients who already have vaccination appointments, but will monitor the weather throughout the day Tuesday. Patients who are unable to make it to their appointments will be rescheduled. If worsening conditions prompt the clinic to close, InterMed will call affected patients in order to reschedule appointments, spokesman John Lamb said.

Neither MaineGeneral Health in Augusta nor Central Maine Healthcare in Lewiston had any community vaccination clinics scheduled for Tuesday.

Power outages are also a possibility during the storm, particularly along the coast due to the combination of heavy snow, sleet and wind gusts of up to 40 mph. The Maine Emergency Management Agency advised residents to avoid travel, if possible, because the falling or blowing snow will create hazardous conditions.

The number of new infections from the virus has declined in Maine in recent weeks in what officials hope is a sign that the state is finally coming out of the worst period of the pandemic following the holiday season. The seven-day, rolling average of new cases stood at 357 on Monday, compared to 455 cases in the week ending Jan. 25 and a peak of 626 cases for the period ending Jan. 15, according to figures from the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention.

There were 164 people hospitalized with COVID-19 statewide on Monday, up four since Sunday. Among those 164 individuals, 51 were in critical care beds and 28 were connected to ventilators. Statewide, there were 92 ICU beds available as of Monday as well as more than 200 ventilators.

Despite the improving case numbers, the number of deaths in Maine continues to rise. More than 60 percent of Maine’s 595 total deaths linked to COVID-19 have been reported since Dec. 1.

All five of the individuals whose deaths were reported Monday were Cumberland County residents 80 or older. Nearly 60 percent of all COVID-19 deaths in Maine have been among individuals 80 or older, while 85 percent have been among people 70 or older.

As a result, Maine’s current vaccination campaign is focused most heavily on that 70-plus age bracket, which includes more than 190,000 individuals. Just over 30 percent of those who have received one dose of vaccine in Maine are 70 or older, according to a breakdown of vaccinations from the Maine CDC.

As of Monday morning, 153,981 doses of vaccine had been administered in Maine since mid-December. That figure includes 115,087 first doses and 38,894 second or “booster” shots needed to achieve maximum protection with either the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines.

Roughly 8.6 percent of Maine’s population had received at least one dose of vaccine as of Monday morning, although the inoculation campaign has also been plagued by a nationwide shortage of doses and the lack of a centralized, statewide registration and appointment system, which is likely still weeks away in Maine.

Maine had the ninth-highest first-dose vaccination rate among the states and the fifth-highest percentage of the population that had received both doses, according to tracking by Bloomberg News.

Allocations of both the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines by the federal government have been slower and smaller than anticipated since the nationwide inoculation campaign began in December.

Maine expected to receive 20,375 first-round doses of the vaccines this week and for the next two weeks, which is well short of the estimated 50,000 weekly doses necessary to vaccinate most state residents by summer. That figure of 20,375 doses does not include second doses, which are held in reserve by the federal government until it is time to administer them either three or four weeks after the first shot.

 

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