COVID-19 Vaccination in Maine
Page last updated 09-01-23. COVID-19 vaccine recommendations have been updated as of September 12. The content on this page is no longer current and will be updated to align with the new recommendations. This document will be updated on an ongoing basis.
Maine COVID-19 Vaccine FAQ
- Who is eligible for vaccination now?
Anyone 6 months and older is eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccine in Maine.
Note that only the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines are authorized for children from 6 months - 12 years of age.
The Pfizer, Moderna, and Novavax vaccines are all available for individuals 12 and older.
- Can residents from other states get vaccinated for COVID-19 in Maine, if they are otherwise eligible?
- Where can youth 6+ months get the updated COVID vaccine?
Youth under the age of 18 should contact a primary health care provider, FQHC, or public health department (Portland Public Health or Bangor Public Health) to inquire about an appointment for vaccination.
If insured, vaccination may also be available for youth between the ages of 3-18 at a pharmacy.
- Is consent from a parent or legal guardian required for individuals under the age of 18 to receive a COVID-19 vaccine?
Yes. Parental or guardian consent can be obtained in two ways.
Option 1: The first option for consent is by phone with a witness listening on the phone line as arranged by the vaccination site. Telephone registration staff can write “verbal consent obtained” on the guardian/parent signature line followed by their signature. And a witness can write “witnessed personally” followed by their signature.
Option 2: The second option is to provide consent on paper or electronically. Each vaccination site has a consent form. Such consent forms can be mailed in advance to vaccination sites, emailed to vaccination sites, or brought to sites at the time of registration.
A small number of youth may give their own consent for COVID-19 vaccination. This includes youth who:
- Are living separately from parents/legal guardian and independent of parental support. (A minor may prove he/she meets this exception with certain documentation, including a written statement signed by (1) the director or designee of a government or nonprofit agency that provides services to individuals experiencing homelessness, (2) a school social worker or counselor, or (3) an attorney representing the minor, or proof of filing for emancipation or a copy of a protection from abuse complaint or a temporary order or final order of protection against the minor’s parent or legal guardian);
- Are or were legally married;
- Are or were a member of the Armed Forces of the U.S.;
- Have been emancipated by the court.
- What type of identification is needed to verify a youth’s eligibility at the vaccine clinic?
In recognition that youth have less documentation of age, parents or guardians can attest to the eligibility of a youth in their care. Vaccine sites can also check the State immunization registry, ImmPact, to verify the date of birth of a person under 18 years-old.
Scheduling Your Vaccination
- Why are there no appointments at a site on vaccines.gov that says it is open to the public?
A pharmacy may only have limited supply of vaccine on hand at any given time and may thus limit appointments to align with their available supply. Supply is expected to be replenished at regular intervals so if you are unable to make an appointment at a location near you, please check back regularly or try another pharmacy.
Bridge Program recipients should seek vaccination at CVS, Walgreens, and public health clinics with available vaccine.
- Will my doctor’s office be able to get me vaccinated?
Some but not all doctors’ offices will have COVID-19 vaccines available. It is recommended that you reach out to your PCP's office to inquire about whether they will have vaccine on hand and make an appointment to get one, if so.
- I lost my vaccination card. What should I do?
You do not need proof of prior vaccination in order to receive this update COVID-19 vaccine. And while the Maine Immunization Program does not issue replacement COVID-19 vaccination cards, you can use the online record request form or call 207-287-3746 to obtain a copy of your immunization record.
About the COVID-19 Vaccine
- Why should I get a COVID-19 vaccine?
COVID-19 vaccination is the best protection we have to help keep you from getting COVID-19. Getting vaccinated may also protect people around you, particularly people at increased risk for severe illness from COVID-19. Vaccination is an important tool to help stop the COVID-19 pandemic.
- How do these vaccines work?
Two of the three vaccines, such as from Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna, use a genetic molecule known as mRNA to prime the immune system against COVID-19. The mRNA is packaged in an oily bubble that can fuse to a cell, allowing the molecule to slip in. The cell uses the mRNA to make proteins from the coronavirus, which stimulates the immune system. While the mRNA is destroyed by our cells within days, the immune protection from the vaccine may last for months or even years.
The Novavax vaccine does not use mRNA. Rather, it uses an inactive part of the COVID-19 virus to teach your body to recognize and respond to the virus when you encounter COVID in the real world.
- What are the side effects?
The injection into your arm won’t feel different than any other vaccine. While some people may not exhibit any side effects, others may experience fever and flu-like symptoms and can include headaches, fever, chills, minor swelling, pain at the injection site, and muscle pain. Side effects might affect your ability to do daily activities, but they should go away in 24-48 hours.
- Can the vaccine give me COVID-19?
No, it cannot. The vaccines authorized for use in the U.S. do not include any version of the coronavirus that causes COVID-19.
- How do I know the vaccine is safe?
Each vaccine company’s application to the federal Food and Drug Administration included two months of follow-up safety data from clinical trials conducted by universities and other independent bodies, during which tens of thousands of volunteers got a vaccine and waited to see if they became infected, compared with others who received a placebo. By September 2021, Pfizer’s trial had 44,000 participants; no serious safety concerns have been reported.
While it is possible that a small number of adverse effects occur following vaccination, the health risk from COVID-19 is far greater than potential complications from the vaccine.
- I have a medical condition -- how will I know if the vaccine is safe for me?
- I’ve already had COVID-19. Do I need the vaccine?
It is recommended that people get a COVID-19 vaccine even if they were previously infected with the virus that causes COVID-19. People who had COVID-19 can get the vaccine when eligible to receive it after they’ve recovered from being ill with COVID-19.
- How long it will take after your shot before it becomes effective?
For Pfizer, Moderna, and Novavax vaccines, individuals are considered protected 14 days after their vaccination.
- I am age-eligible. Why isn’t my doctor’s office contacting me to help me get vaccinated?
Some but not all doctors’ offices will be reaching out to patients. Maine is listing sites open to the public on www.maine.gov/covid19/vaccines/vaccination-sites or search “Maine COVID vaccine sites” and click the official website link.
- Will I have to pay for a vaccine?
No, vaccine doses purchased with U.S. taxpayer dollars will be provided at no cost. For people covered by Medicare, Medicaid, and most commercial insurance plans, the vaccine will be covered by insurance with no out-of-pocket cost. For uninsured people, any administrative fees charged by participating providers will be paid for by the federal Provider Relief Fund.
- What ingredients are in the COVID-19 vaccines?
- Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 Vaccine Overview and Safety
- Moderna COVID-19 Vaccine Overview and Safety
- Novavax COVID-19 Vaccine Overview and Safety
- Ingredients Included in COVID-19 Vaccines
None of the vaccines contains eggs, gelatin, latex, or preservatives. All COVID-19 vaccines are free from metals such as iron, nickel, cobalt, lithium, and rare earth alloys. They are also free from manufactured products such as microelectronics, electrodes, carbon nanotubes, or nanowire semiconductors.
None of the COVID-19 vaccines authorized or approved in the United States contains any live virus.
- Is the vaccine safe for children 5-17?
The Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna COVID-19 vaccines have gone through all the same clinical trials and rigorous approval processes that every vaccine for children goes through. This vaccine and others for COVID-19 have been developed faster than other vaccines because scientists and governments around the world have contributed expertise and funding to their development.
Hundreds of millions of doses of COVID-19 vaccine have been safely administered in the United States. The pediatric vaccine from Pfizer and Moderna are smaller doses for children ages 5 – 11 and 6 - 11 (respectively) that have been proven safe and effective in clinical trials. Children age 12-17 receive the same dosage as is prescribed for adults, whether receiving the Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna vaccine.
- Will my child experience side effects after receiving the vaccine?
In the clinical trial for the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine for 5-11-year-olds, the most common side effects were fatigue (39%), headache (28%), and muscle pain (12%). As with adults, the reactions were more common after the 2nd dose. Fever/chills were less frequent compared to older children and adults.
Reactions to vaccines materialize in the first weeks/months after receiving the vaccine, not years later. Given that mRNA research began in 1961 and the first clinical trials using mRNA technology began in 2001, there is no reason to think that these vaccines would be any different than other vaccines in terms of long-term safety.
- Is there a fertility/development concern with vaccinating children before they reach puberty?
No. There is no evidence that any vaccines, including the COVID-19 vaccines, can cause female or male fertility problems.
- Why should my child get a COVID-19 vaccine?
The Delta variant resulted in a surge of COVID-19 cases in children across the country throughout the summer. During a 6-week period in late June to mid-August, COVID-19 hospitalizations among children and adolescents increased fivefold.
Getting your child vaccinated helps protect them against contracting COVID-19, as well as protecting them against serious illness or death from the disease. Being vaccinated also protects children from the long-term effects of COVID-19, including Multisystem Inflammatory Syndrome in Children (MIS-C), a rare but serious condition associated with COVID-19 in children in which different body parts become inflamed including the heart, lungs, kidneys, brain, skin, eyes, or gastrointestinal organs.
Fully vaccinated children may also be able to avoid quarantining if they are a close contact of a confirmed case. This allows them to remain in school and participate in after-school activities with fewer interruptions. Additional details on this topic will be forthcoming in future updates to the Maine School Standard Operating Procedures (SOP) for Responding to a Positive Case in Schools.
- How is the vaccine for kids different from the vaccine for adults?
The vaccines for children are administered in a smaller dose than what is administered to adolescents and adults. This smaller dose is what was used in the clinical trial that supported authorization of this formulation for children 5-11 for Pfizer and 6-11 for Moderna. The vaccine is packaged with different colored tops so that providers can quickly differentiate the vaccine for children from the vaccine for adults.
- Does weight or age determine which vaccine a child should receive?
While certain medicines like Tylenol or other pain killers are dosed according to the age of the recipient, vaccines are based on the age of the immune system. A child should receive the dose of COVID-19 based on their age on the day of vaccination.
If a child turns from 11 to 12 years of age in between their first and second dose they should receive the adult dose of the COVID-19 vaccine (which is authorized for 12-17-year-olds) for their second dose. If a child turns from 11 to 12 years of age in between their first and second dose and receives the pediatric COVID-19 vaccine for their second dose, they do not need to repeat the dose.
- Do children ages 5-17 need two doses of the vaccine?
Yes, the recommended course for both the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines for children are two doses. With the Pfizer vaccine, the two doses are separated by at least three weeks; with the Moderna vaccine, the two doses are separated by at least four weeks.
- When are children considered fully vaccinated?
Like adults, children are considered fully vaccinated 14 days after they receive the second dose of their Pfizer vaccine.
- If my child already had an infection with COVID-19, should they get a vaccine?
Children with prior infection or disease with COVID-19 should receive a COVID-19 vaccination, according to U.S. CDC guidelines.
- How will vaccine safety be monitored in this age group?
COVID-19 vaccines have undergone – and will continue to undergo – the most intensive safety monitoring in U.S. history. U.S. CDC and FDA will continue to monitor safety using their established and new safety monitoring systems. Parents/caregivers can enroll your child in v-safe, a free and easy-to-use smartphone-based app, where you can complete health check-ins after COVID-19 vaccination and report how you child is feeling after vaccination. Additionally, patients, caregivers, and vaccine providers are also asked to report adverse events after vaccination to the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS), even if it is not clear that the vaccine caused the adverse event. The U.S. CDC reviews all the information and reports any serious adverse reactions.
- Is the Maine CDC worried about myocarditis or pericarditis after vaccination in children?
Cases of myocarditis (inflammation of the heart muscle) and pericarditis (inflammation of the outer lining of the heart) have been reported after Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna COVID-19 vaccination of children ages 12–17 years. These reactions are rare; in one study, the risk of myocarditis after the second dose of Pfizer-BioNTech in the week following vaccination was around 54 cases per million doses administered to males ages 12–17 years.
- Is it safe to co-administer COVID-19 vaccines with other vaccines, like flu?
Yes, if a patient is eligible, both flu and COVID-19 vaccines can be administered at the same visit, as recommended by U.S. CDC and its advisory committee, ACIP, as well as by Maine CDC Director Nirav D. Shah. In addition to flu vaccine, COVID-19 vaccine can be given with other vaccines as well.
- Will COVID-19 vaccines for children be free?
Yes, COVID-19 vaccines are available for everyone at no cost, including the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine for children ages 5 through 11 and the Moderna vaccine for children 6-17. COVID-19 vaccines will continue to be given to all eligible people living in the United States, regardless of insurance or immigration status.
- Will children younger than 12 receive a vaccine card?
Yes, all vaccine recipients will receive a U.S. CDC vaccination card upon initial vaccination.
- Where is the vaccine for this age group available?
Vaccines will be available at doctors’ offices across Maine, as well as at pharmacies (for those 3 years and older), Federally Qualified Health Centers, and community vaccination events. You can find locations vaccinating this age group at this link. More locations will be added as they come online.
- Are these vaccines safe for babies and toddlers? Are there side effects?
These vaccines are safe. Before recommending COVID-19 vaccination for children, scientists conducted clinical trials with thousands of children to establish both the safety and effectiveness of the vaccines.
Millions of children and teens ages 5 through 17 years have been fully vaccinated for COVID-19. Ongoing safety monitoring shows that the known risks and possible severe complications of COVID-19 outweigh the potential risks of having a rare, adverse reaction to vaccination.
Reported side effects tend to be mild, temporary, and like those experienced after routine vaccination. They include fever, chills, feeling tired, and having some pain at the injection site. Some children experience more side effects after the second dose of vaccination. Some experience no side effects, at all.
Serious reactions after COVID-19 vaccination in children are rare. When they are reported, serious reactions most frequently occur within a few days after vaccination.
- Why should I get my baby/toddler/preschooler vaccinated?
Between March 2020 and April 2022, COVID-19 was a leading cause of death in children between 1 and 4 years old, according to the U.S. CDC. Children who get COVID-19 can get very sick, can require treatment in a hospital, and in rare situations, can even die. After getting COVID-19, children and teens can also experience a wide range of new, returning, or ongoing health problems. It is unclear what the impact of long COVID will be in children. Getting eligible children vaccinated can help prevent them from getting really sick even if they do get infected and help prevent serious short- and long-term complications of COVID-19.
Vaccinating children can also give parents greater confidence in their children participating in childcare, school, and other activities.
Getting a COVID-19 vaccine is a safer, more reliable way to build protection than getting sick with COVID-19. The known risks of COVID-19 and possible severe complications—such as long-term health problems, hospitalization, and even death—outweigh the potential risks of having a rare, adverse reaction to vaccination. The benefit of COVID-19 vaccines, like other vaccines, is that those who get vaccinated get protection without risking the potentially serious consequences of getting sick with COVID-19.
- How many doses of the vaccine will my child need?
At this time, the Pfizer vaccine is three-doses, with the first two doses spaced three weeks apart and the third dose given two months after the second dose. The Moderna vaccine is two-doses spaced four weeks apart. Children are considered fully vaccinated two weeks after the last dose in the series.
Research is still underway as to whether these vaccines will require further doses/booster doses. This information will be updated as and when information changes.
- If my child has already had a COVID-19 infection, should they get vaccinated?
Yes, it is still recommended that children get vaccinated even if they have had a previous COVID-19 infection. The CDC notes that for children who have been infected with COVID-19, their next dose can be delayed 3 months from when symptoms started or, if they did not have symptoms, when they received a positive test result.
- I can’t get an appointment at my pediatrician/family doctor’s office to vaccinate my 6 month-5-year-old child. What do I do?
Some hospital systems and FQHCs will be vaccinating children who are not enrolled in their practices, so it is best to call to see whether you can take your child there for a vaccination.
Pharmacies can vaccinate anyone 3 years and older.
Vaccine clinics are being held at WIC clinics across the state and at community pop up events.
Also, the York County Vaccination Center will be open and offering vaccines on a walk-in basis Tuesday/Thursday from 1PM-6PM and Saturday from 10AM-3:30PM.
Check this site regularly to see where you may be able to take your child for their vaccination.
- I don’t have a pediatrician or family doctor. How can I get my small child vaccinated?
Some hospital systems and FQHCs will be vaccinating children not enrolled in their practice, so it is best to call to see whether you can take your child there for a vaccination. Similarly, pharmacies can vaccinate anyone 3 years and older. Throughout the summer, vaccine clinics will be held at some WIC clinics across the state, as well.
Check this site regularly to see where you may be able to take your child for their vaccination.
- My child will age out of this age group partway through the vaccination series. Should I wait until they are old enough to receive the 5+ vaccine for Pfizer or the 6yr old+ vaccine for Moderna? Should I switch courses midway through?
They shouldn’t wait. U.S. CDC guidance says that you should start the vaccination process now, and then when the child turns 5 (or 6), they can get the higher dose.
Children should continue with the same type of vaccine in the series if possible. That is, if they started with the Moderna vaccine and are about to turn 6 years old, they should continue with Moderna at the 6-year-old to 17-year-old dose. Likewise, if they are about to turn 5 years old and started the Pfizer series when they were 4 years old, they should continue with the Pfizer series at the 5–11-year-old dose.
- How is the vaccine for babies and toddlers different from the vaccine for older kids and adults?
The COVID-19 vaccines for children have the same active ingredients as the vaccines given to adults. However, children receive a smaller, age-appropriate dose that is the right size for them. The smaller doses were rigorously tested and found to create the needed immune response for each age group. Your child should get the vaccine made for their age group.
- Can my child receive the COVID-19 vaccine at the same time as they receive other childhood vaccines?
Yes, the COVID-19 vaccine can be administered alongside other childhood vaccines. Routine vaccination is an important preventive care service that should not be delayed, and the COVID-19 vaccine can be given alongside other routine childhood vaccines.
If multiple vaccines are given at a single visit, each injection will be given in a different injection site, according to recommendations by age.
- Are COVID-19 vaccines for this age group free?
Yes, COVID-19 vaccines are available for everyone 6 months and older at no cost. COVID-19 vaccines will continue to be given to all eligible people living in the United States, regardless of insurance or immigration status. While a vaccination site may ask to see your health insurance card, it is not required for your child to receive a vaccine and you will not be turned away for not having insurance.
- Can the vaccines cause any fertility/development issues?
No. There is no evidence that any vaccines, including COVID-19 vaccines, can cause female or male fertility problems. There is no evidence that vaccine ingredients, including mRNA, or antibodies made following COVID-19 vaccination would cause any problems with becoming pregnant now or in the future. Similarly, there is no evidence that the COVID-19 vaccine affects puberty.
- Do I need a booster dose?
Maine CDC recommends everyone stay up to date with COVID-19 vaccination, including all primary series doses and boosters for their age group:People ages 5 years and older should get all primary series doses, and the booster dose recommended for them by U.S. CDC, if eligible
- Everyone age 5 years and older are recommended to receive an updated (bivalent) booster.
- This includes people who have received all primary series doses and people who have previously received one or more original (monovalent) boosters at least 2 months ago.
- Children age 5 years can only get a Pfizer-BioNTech booster
- Children ages 6–11 years can get either a Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna booster
- Anyone age 18 and older can choose to receive a Novavax (monovalent) booster, if they are unable to receive or choose not to receive an updated Pfizer or Moderna booster.
- Everyone age 5 years and older are recommended to receive an updated (bivalent) booster.
- What is considered a “booster” dose?
A “booster dose” refers to another dose of a vaccine that is given at least 2 months after a second dose of the Pfizer, Moderna, Novavax, or first dose of the J&J vaccine. A booster dose is given to someone who built enough protection after vaccination, but then that protection decreased over time (this is called waning immunity).
People who are moderately or severely immunocompromised have different recommendations for COVID-19 vaccines, including boosters.
- The clinic where I was vaccinated is now closed. Where do I get my booster shot?
- Vaccines are widely available across the state at doctors’ offices, pharmacies, and hospital clinics. You can find a vaccination site here: https://www.maine.gov/covid19/vaccines/vaccination-sites
- Can I "mix and match" vaccine types for my booster dose?
- Everyone age 6 and older may get a different booster than they got for their primary series, as long as it is Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna.
- Children age 5 may get a Pfizer booster, if eligible.
- Novavax is authorized for use as a booster dose only for those 18 years and older at this time.
- If I got the J&J vaccine for my primary dose and booster, do I need a second booster?
People (except those who are moderately or severely immunocompromised) who first received a J&J/Janssen COVID-19 vaccine and got it again for their booster may also receive a booster of an mRNA COVID-19 vaccine (Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna). Get the mRNA booster at least 4 months after the most recent J&J/Janssen booster.One CDC study found that adults who received the J&J/Janssen COVID-19 vaccine as both their primary and booster had lower levels of protection against COVID-19-associated emergency department and urgent care visits during Omicron compared to adults who received an mRNA COVID-19 booster.\
Use CDC’s COVID-19 Booster Tool to learn if and when you can get boosters to stay up to date with your COVID-19 vaccines.
- Can I get a COVID-19 booster and a flu shot at the same time?
- Yes. Aside from the usual side effects related to your vaccines, such as soreness at the site of the injection and general feelings of lethargy and achiness, it is safe to get both your COVID-19 vaccine and your flu shot at the same time, though, for your own comfort, you may want to choose different arms.
- How soon after my last shot can I get a booster?
- Use the personalization tool under the "Find out when you can get your booster" section of this page on the U.S. CDC's website to answer the question of whether you should get your booster shot.
- Should I still get my booster shot if had experienced a breakthrough case of COVID-19?
Yes. Individuals who have had COVID-19 after being fully vaccinated and boosted can get an updated COVID-19 booster vaccine after the 5-day isolation period if they are not experiencing symptoms.
If you recently had COVID-19, you may consider delaying your next vaccine dose (primary dose or booster) by 3 months from when:- your symptoms started, you first received a positive test if you had no symptoms.
- Getting COVID-19 again soon after just having had COVID-19 can happen but is not common in the weeks to months after you had it.
- Do I have to get a booster to be considered fully vaccinated?
- No. At this time, you are considered fully vaccinated once you are 14 days out from your final dose of your initial vaccine, whether that was the two-shot Pfizer or Moderna vaccines or your single-shot Johnson & Johnson vaccine.
- What is the difference between being fully vaccinated & being "up to date" with my vaccinations?
According the the U.S. CDC you are considered fully vaccinated when you are 14-days out from your final dose of your initial vaccine (see question above).
You are up to date with your COVID-19 vaccines if you have completed a COVID-19 vaccine primary series and received the most recent booster dose recommended for you by CDC.
Vaccine recommendations are based on your age, the vaccine you first received, and time since last dose.