The new omicron-targeting booster shots are flowing into Maine, with thousands of shots going into arms every day, although there are some supply constraints.

The Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention reported that the state has averaged about 2,700 booster shots daily since Sept. 8, when supplies became more robust. That’s up from about 500 booster shots per day in late August, before the omicron-targeting booster shot was approved by the federal government on Sept. 1.

Maine has had greater uptake of booster shots than the national average, with 65 percent of Maine people getting at least one booster dose since the original boosters became available in fall 2021. Nationally, about 35 percent of the U.S. population has gotten at least one booster dose.

Anita Reed-Hooper, RN, gives a booster shot to Roberto Marquita of South Portland at Southern Maine Health Care in Biddeford on Tuesday. Shawn Patrick Ouellette/Staff Photographer

“I’m pleased with where we stand,” Dr. Nirav Shah, Maine CDC director, said in an interview on Tuesday. “The geographic distribution of the boosters goes across the farthest reaches of northern Maine to the tip of southern Maine.”

Shah said the supply is “sufficient, but limited” and that Maine is on track to receive its initial order of 80,500 booster doses. There is more of a supply constraint with Moderna, while Pfizer doses are more plentiful, Shah said. The shots are considered nearly equivalent, although Pfizer is approved for ages 12 and older and Moderna for those 18 and older. Shah did not have a breakdown of supplies specific to each brand for Maine, but noted that there have been some national supply chain problems with Moderna that are expected to be alleviated in the coming weeks.

Shah said people having trouble getting an appointment should choose Pfizer rather than Moderna.


Booster shots are available for those who are at least two months past their last dose. For those who have had a recent COVID-19 infection, the U.S. CDC recommends waiting for three months post-infection before getting a booster. The previous booster shots that were given up until Sept. 1 have been discontinued.

Patients seeking the new booster need to have received the initial vaccination, whether it was one shot or two, but they do not need to have received previous booster shots.

Dr. Dora Anne Mills, chief health improvement officer for MaineHealth, the parent company of Maine Medical Center and a network of health care services in the state, said that within the network, appointments for booster shots are filling up within 24 hours after they’ve been opened.

“The uptick is brisk,” Mills said. “The demand is accentuated because of the relative smaller supply of the vaccine compared to the demand. But for the most part, you can find it. It might not be immediately available in the exact time and place that you want it, but you can get the booster.”

Matthew Marston, vice president and chief pharmacy officer of Northern Light Health, the parent organization of Eastern Maine Medical Center in Bangor and Mercy Hospital in Portland, said vaccinations are underway at “hospitals, physician practices and retail pharmacy locations.”

“We have not been limited in providing Pfizer vaccine due to supply. However, statewide allocations of Moderna vaccine have been inadequate to meet demand. This is expected to improve in the weeks ahead. However, we encourage those looking to get vaccinated not to wait and to receive whichever vaccine is available to them as both are deemed safe and effective options.”


Marston said it doesn’t matter which vaccine patients previously received as “both Pfizer and Moderna can be interchanged with one another for booster doses.”

The Moderna COVID-19 Vaccine, Bivalent at Southern Maine Health Care in Biddeford Tuesday. Shawn Patrick Ouellette/Staff Photographer

The differences between fall 2021 – when the first booster shots were approved – and now, when some people are getting their fifth shot, make comparisons difficult. The pandemic is different, with more treatment options available, the virus mutating and more people with immune protection from vaccines, prior infection or both. Also, the initial booster doses that started being administered in fall 2021 were originally recommended primarily for those ages 65 and older, while currently anyone 12 and older can get a booster shot.

Nevertheless, the uptake is similar with about 2,500 shots being administered per day from Oct. 1-10, 2021, compared to about 2,700 shots daily from Sept. 9-19, 2021.


The booster shots are arriving when COVID-19 case counts are increasing in Maine, with 14-day trends showing a 12 percent increase to an average of 241 daily cases, according to the New York Times COVID-19 tracker. However, hospitalizations have declined by 10 percent during the past 14 days, with 153 people currently in the hospital testing positive for COVID-19.

Shah recommended that people get their flu shot at the same time as the COVID-19 booster. Most pharmacies and doctor’s offices will give both at the same time.


“The way I’m thinking about boosters is we winterize our car, we winterize our house, and as it relates to our bodies we should winterize our bodies with boosters and flu shots,” Shah said.

President Biden, meanwhile, stirred up controversy on Sunday when he declared on “60 Minutes” that the “pandemic is over.” The World Health Organization – which determines whether the world is experiencing a pandemic – has made no such declaration.

Shah said that despite the WHO maintaining that the world is still struggling with the COVID-19 pandemic, he can relate to what the president is saying.

“The president is looking at things from a much different vantage point, reflecting on where (Americans) are on a personal level,” Shah said. With vaccines, effective treatments and tools that people can use to keep themselves safe from the virus, society is “in a much different place than we were two-and-a-half years ago.”

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