Maine CDC Director Nirav Shah speaks during a press briefing inside the Maine Emergency Management Agency in Augusta in this March 23, 2020, file photo. Credit: Troy R. Bennett / BDN

Third doses of the Pfizer and Moderna COVID-19 vaccines are expected to be available in Maine starting the week of Sept. 20.

State Center for Disease Control and Prevention Director Nirav Shah said that people will be eligible for booster shots after at least eight months have passed since getting their second dose.

While the state is preparing for the roll out, Shah said officials are still highly focused on administering first shots.

In Maine alone, he said, “The risk of getting COVID if you’re unvaccinated is eight times higher than the risk of getting COVID if you’re vaccinated.”

And Shah said the risk of needing hospital-level care is more than seven times higher for unvaccinated individuals.

Shah also said that he remains concerned about ICU bed capacity due to the number of people in the hospital with COVID-19.

As of Monday, 136 people are hospitalized and 69 are in critical care.

Shah said the majority of patients who need hospital-level care are unvaccinated — and the rate is much higher in ICUs.

“Indeed, as of last week, the entire ICU of COVID patients at Maine Medical Center — all of the COVID patients in the ICU — were unvaccinated individuals,” he said.

Shah said one promising statistic among rising case numbers and hospitalizations is that vaccinations are also up by more than 50 percent in the past two weeks.

This article appears through a media partnership with Maine Public.