In this Dec. 15, 2020, file photo, nurse Kayla Mitchell, left, of Maine Medical Center’s COVID ICU unit in Portland becomes the first person in the state to receive the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine. Credit: Derek Davis / Portland Press Herald via AP

PORTLAND, Maine — Maine has started providing coronavirus vaccines to health workers other than hospital staff, and hopes to give one to all health care personnel in the state by next month.

The first phase, or “phase 1A,” of the state’s vaccine plan is slated to conclude in February, the Maine Department of Health and Human Services said. The initial phase involves vaccinating all the long-term care residents in the state as well as all the health care workers.

The state’s goal remains dependent on the federal government’s allocation of the vaccines, the DHHS said in a statement. Public health officials in Maine and other states have expressed frustration at the pace and volume of the supply of vaccines from the feds.

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The Maine Medical Association is working with state authorities on the rollout, said Andrew McLean, the chief executive officer of the organization.

“We’re looking forward to first protecting health care workers caring for patients with COVID-19, and those who are at most risk as patient-facing clinicians,” he said.

Widespread declination of the new coronavirus vaccines has not emerged as a problem in the early stages of Maine’s immunization campaign, the head of the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention said.

Some potential recipients have indicated they would rather not be the first to receive the vaccine, but they’ve also said they’d be willing further down the line, said Maine CDC director Nirav Shah. He added that health care providers in the state are providing a model for the importance of using the vaccines.

“Thankfully the uptake has been good,” Shah said during an appearance on Maine Public.

Patrick Whittle, The Associated Press

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