ROCKLAND, Maine (AP) — Maine is opening up eligibility for COVID-19 vaccines to all state residents age 16 or older in a few days.
Democratic Gov. Janet Mills announced Thursday that eligibility will expand on April 7. The state had been planning to open eligibility to everyone 16 years of age or older on April 19.
The state previously started offering the vaccine for everyone age 50 and older, as well as teachers and front line health care workers. The expansion to everyone 16 and older represents the broadest expansion of the vaccine yet in Maine.
“While this is a great step forward, Maine people should keep in mind that even though they are eligible it will still take time to get an appointment and get a vaccine,” Mills said. "We will continue to work with vaccine providers across Maine to get shots into arms as quickly as we can.”
Almost 60% of the state's 50-and-older population has received at least one dose of the vaccine, said Jeanne Lambrew, commissioner of the Maine Department of Health and Human Services.
The state is able to expand eligibility for the vaccine sooner than expected because the federal government has increased Maine's supply of the vaccines, Mills said.
In other pandemic news in Maine:
The Maine CDC said Thursday that it has reported nearly 50,790 confirmed virus cases since the start of the pandemic. It has also reported 743 deaths.
The seven-day rolling average of daily new cases in Maine has risen over the past two weeks from 190.00 new cases per day on March 16 to 218.86 new cases per day on March 30. The seven-day rolling average of daily deaths in Maine has risen over the past two weeks from 0.29 deaths per day on March 16 to 1.71 deaths per day on March 30.
Maine has closed a ferry terminal in Rockland after an employee tested positive for COVID-19.
The Maine Department of Transportation closed the Maine State Ferry Service Rockland Ferry Terminal on Wednesday morning due to the positive test. The transportation department said travelers can still board ferries in Rockland, and they will be able to pay fares when they arrive at island terminals.
The department said it’s working with the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention to identify close contacts of the worker. The worker is isolating and was last in the office on March 26, the department said.
The transportation department said it expects the building to reopen on Friday morning. No members of the public have been identified as close contacts of the infected worker, the department said.
JOHNSON & JOHNSON
Maine's immunization supply has not been affected by quality problems with a batch of Johnson & Johnson vaccines, the Maine CDC said Thursday.
Johnson & Johnson said Wednesday that a batch of the company's COVID-19 vaccine failed quality standards and can’t be used. The company said that's because a vaccine ingredient made by Emergent BioSolutions did not meet standards.
Maine CDC said in a statement that “federal partners have confirmed that Maine will receive the full scheduled allocation of 20,600 doses of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine next week.” The agency also said doses of Johnson & Johnson vaccine that Maine is slated to receive were not manufactured in the affected facility.