Maine has gotten fewer doses of vaccinations than anticipated for the past two weeks, delaying inoculation of health care workers, health officials said Monday afternoon.
For two consecutive weeks starting Dec. 14, the state has received about 2,000 fewer doses of both the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines than anticipated. It’s not possible to say how long the shortage of vaccine doses will prolong the first phase of inoculation in the state, according to Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention Director Nirav Shah. But vaccine shortages are not exclusive to Maine. Several governors have complained that the federal government is sending them fewer doses than expected.
The state’s four-phase vaccination plan prioritizes frontline health care workers, first responders and home health care providers. As of last week, Maine had received about 45,000 vaccine doses, which is enough to be able to inoculate one third of this segment of the population. As of Dec. 11, the state was projecting it would get about 50,000 doses by Christmas week.
“Our second and third weeks’ allocations of both vaccines were less than what we initially thought,” Shah said .
“That unfortunately has elongated the timeframe which it will take us to move through phase 1A.”
The gap between the anticipated number of doses and the actual number of doses Maine has gotten has narrowed over the past two weeks, but the state still is not receiving the number it expects from Operation Warp Speed, the federal effort to distribute 300 million COVID-19 vaccine doses.
Every week Maine CDC receives estimates of the following week’s vaccine dose allocation for both Pfizer and Moderna vaccines. It then has to provide Operation Warp Speed with the addresses it wants doses shipped to, like a hospital or a home health care setting.
Shah said Gen. Gustave Perna, the military leader of the operation said that federal officials had miscommunicated the allocations to states, because a vaccine dose was not necessarily ready to be put into ultra cold storage and shipped out right after it had come off the production line.
“That difference led to the reduction,” Shah said. “I believe and trust Gen. Perna. I hope that we don’t see that recur in the future though.”