COVID-19 Vaccination in Maine

Page last updated 01-18-2021. This document will be updated on an ongoing basis. 

Public FAQ

Related:  FAQs: Phase 1a Vaccination for Maine Health Care Personnel

Why should I get a COVID-19 vaccine?

COVID-19 vaccination can 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. 

Who is being vaccinated now?

Maine is using a phased approach to vaccination, consistent with U.S. CDC guidance, that remains subject to change as we learn more. At this time, vaccine availability is limited to health care workers and emergency responders, and Maine’s most vulnerable residents, such as Mainers living in nursing facilities
The next group to be vaccinated are Maine residents aged 70 and older, starting January 18. People aged 65 to 69 and adults with high-risk medical conditions will get vaccinated later when vaccine supply is sufficient.

These phases are subject to change, and the specific timeline for each vaccine phase depends on vaccine availability. Details on each phase and timeline will be released as soon as available.

Can residents from other states get vaccinated for COVID-19 in Maine, if they are otherwise eligible?  

Not at this time. Maine is receiving an extremely limited supply of vaccine based on the number of Maine residents. 

I work in public safety or COVID-19 response. How will I know where to get vaccinated?

Your employer will arrange for how you will get vaccinated.

I am aged 70 or older. How will I know where to get vaccinated?

There are two ways: 1) You may hear from your health care provider, or 2) Make an appointment at a vaccination site now offering the vaccine to Maine people 70 and older. This list will be updated as regularly as more vaccination sites become available. 

What health conditions qualify a person for getting a vaccine in Phase 1b? 

The U.S. CDC has studied individuals with severe cases of COVID-19 and found that having health conditions such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, diabetes, and cancer increases the odds that a person with COVID-19 requires hospitalization or help breathing, and increases the risk of death. Maine clinicians are reviewing these conditions and additional guidance will be issued in the future.  

Who is considered a critical frontline worker?

The U.S. CDC advisory committee has recommended that the following critical workers be considered frontline: fire fighters, police officers, corrections officers, food and agricultural workers, Postal Service workers, manufacturing workers, grocery store workers, public transit workers, those who work in the education sector (teachers, and support staff), and daycare workers. 

The state is reviewing these recommendations and will make final determinations as this part of Phase 1b approaches. This website will be updated with that information once available.

When can the general public expect to be vaccinated?

It may be summer 2021 before the general public begins to have access to the vaccine.

How will people be told when a vaccine may be available for them? 

People will learn about access to vaccines through the Maine CDC, employers, and their medical providers.  

Should I call my local town office, fire, or police department to speed up my chances of being vaccinated?

No. Doing so could interfere with their ability to deliver essential services.

How many doses will the state receive of the COVID-19 vaccine? 

Details about Maine’s COVID-19 vaccine orders are available here.

How do these new vaccines work?

The vaccines 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.

What are the side effects?

The injection into your arm won’t feel different than any other vaccine. The side effects, which can resemble the symptoms of COVID-19, last about a day and appear more likely after the second dose. Early reports from vaccine trials suggest some people might need to take a day off from work because they feel lousy after receiving the second dose. In the Pfizer vaccine study, about half developed fatigue. Other side effects occurred in at least 25 to 33 percent of patients, sometimes more, including headaches, chills and muscle pain.

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, 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?

You should discuss any concerns with your health care provider to determine your best course of action. For clinical guidance on the first vaccine from Pfizer, consult this U.S. CDC fact sheet. 

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 at any time after they’ve recovered from being  ill with COVID-19. 

Does the COVID-19 vaccine require two doses?

Yes – the two currently authorized vaccines (Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna) both require two doses. Other vaccines in development may require only one dose. These other vaccines are still being studied and may be authorized by the FDA in coming months. 

Should both doses of vaccine come from the same manufacturer?

Yes. The vaccines are not interchangeable. People who get a vaccine that requires two doses must make sure they get the second dose from the same manufacturer as the first dose.  

Does anyone know how long it will take after your shot before it becomes effective?

This can vary by vaccine, and we will likely learn more about this over time. For the two currently authorized vaccines, individuals are considered fully vaccinated approximately 10 days after their second dose.

Do I need to wear a mask and practice physical distancing after I've received two doses of the COVID-19 vaccine? 

Yes. While experts learn more about the protection that COVID-19 vaccines provide under real-life conditions, it will be important for everyone to continue using all the tools available to us to help stop this pandemic, like covering your mouth and nose with a mask, washing hands often, and staying at least 6 feet away from others. Together, COVID-19 vaccination and following CDC’s recommendations for how to protect yourself and others will offer the best protection from getting and spreading COVID-19. 

Experts need to understand more about the protection that COVID-19 vaccines provide before deciding to change recommendations on steps everyone should take to slow the spread of the virus that causes COVID-19. Other factors, including how many people get vaccinated and how the virus is spreading in communities, will also affect this decision.

When can I stop wearing a mask and practicing physical distancing after I've been vaccinated?

There is not enough information currently available to say if or when U.S. CDC will stop recommending that people wear masks and avoid close contact with others to help prevent the spread of the virus that causes COVID-19. 

Experts need to understand more about the protection that COVID-19 vaccines provide before making that decision. Other factors, including how many people get vaccinated and how the virus is spreading in communities, will also affect this decision.

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. 

Where can I learn more about each approved vaccine?

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has published detailed factsheets on each approved COVID-19 vaccine, which are available in multiple languages. Please find them here: