Maine’s COVID-19 case count and hospitalizations held steady Wednesday, and additional vaccine booster shots are now available for certain groups.

The federal government Tuesday approved an additional booster for anyone who is over 50 or immunocompromised and received the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines, or for any adults who received the one-shot Johnson & Johnson vaccine and booster.

For months, people who received the J&J shot have asked whether they should get additional booster shots beyond the initial J&J shot plus the recommended booster. A study released Tuesday by the U.S. CDC suggests that those who got the J&J shot and booster would also benefit from getting an additional Moderna or Pfizer booster.

“Adults who received a primary vaccine and booster dose of Johnson & Johnson’s COVID-19 vaccine at least 4 months ago may now receive a second booster dose using an mRNA (Pfizer or Moderna) COVID-19 vaccine,” according to a U.S. CDC news release.

The U.S. CDC also on Tuesday approved a second booster shot for those who received the Pfizer and Moderna vaccine and are over 50 years old or immunocompromised.

“People over the age of 50 can now get an additional booster 4 months after their prior dose to increase their protection further,” said Dr. Rochelle Walensky, U.S. CDC director, in a statement. “This is especially important for those 65 and older and those 50 and older with underlying medical conditions that increase their risk for severe disease from COVID-19 as they are the most likely to benefit from receiving an additional booster dose at this time. CDC, in collaboration with FDA and our public health partners, will continue to evaluate the need for additional booster doses for all Americans.”


Dr. Nirav Shah, Maine CDC director, said in a tweet Wednesday that “if you are eligible for a second booster, you should get one. They are available, free of charge to you, and resoundingly safe. Data from one large population study showed a significant mortality benefit among those who received a second booster versus one.”

The Maine CDC has compiled a list of vaccination providers on its website.

The state reported 291 new cases of COVID-19 Wednesday and one additional death. The seven-day average of new cases is up slightly, from 172 a week ago to 204 on Wednesday.

Since the pandemic began, Maine has recorded 235,584 cases of COVID-19, and 2,201 deaths.

The number of hospitalized COVID patients in Maine increased from 94 on Tuesday to 98 on Wednesday, with 18 in critical care and five on a ventilator. The hospitalization number has hovered just below 100 patients for 11 days after plummeting 78 percent from a peak of 436 on Jan. 13.

While Maine’s case numbers and hospitalizations have stabilized after steep declines, there are no definitive signs that the new omicron BA.2 subvariant is causing a rise in infections here. Wastewater monitoring, the pace of positive tests and the positive test rate have not indicated a resurgence of the virus.

Health officials nationwide are closely watching for a rise in infection rates based on experiences in other countries where the BA.2 subvariant spread earlier. But many experts also say high levels of immunity in the United States mean a new surge of cases and hospitalizations is unlikely.

A report released Monday by the Maine CDC shows that 10.4 percent of positive tests sampled in March were the more contagious omicron BA.2, a subvariant that has spread worldwide. Nationally, the omicron subvariant has become the dominant strain, with the subvariant showing up in 55 percent of samples, and in 70 percent of samples in the Northeast.

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