COVID-19 Vaccination in Maine
Page last updated 05-10-2021. This document will be updated on an ongoing basis.
Maine COVID-19 Vaccine FAQ
- Who is eligible for vaccination now?
Anyone age 12 or older is eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccine in Maine.
Note that only the Pfizer vaccine is currently authorized for 12-17-year-olds. The Moderna, Pfizer, and Johnson & Johnson / Janssen vaccines are all authorized for individuals 18 and older.
- Can residents from other states get vaccinated for COVID-19 in Maine, if they are otherwise eligible?
- Are youth under the age of 18 eligible to get a COVID-19 vaccine?
Yes. The Pfizer vaccine is authorized for individuals ages 12 to 17.
Neither of the other vaccines (i.e., Moderna or Johnson & Johnson / Janssen) is authorized by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for COVID-19 vaccination for those under age 18 at this time. Similarly, no COVID-19 vaccine is authorized for those 11 and younger at this time.
- Where can youth ages 12 to 17 get the Pfizer vaccine?
The Pfizer vaccine requires special handling, which limits its distribution. So, not every vaccination site in Maine can offer the Pfizer vaccine. Additionally, not every vaccination site with Pfizer vaccine is prepared to vaccinate youth at this time.
The State of Maine’s listing of vaccination sites will indicate which sites are accepting appointments for youth. The Community Vaccination Line (1-888-445-4111) will also be available to provide information regarding vaccine and clinic availability.
- 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
- 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, and this website.
- 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.
- Why are there no appointments at a site on the Maine website that says it is open to the public?
A clinic may close registration when available vaccine slots are exhausted.
- I am now age-eligible. Will my doctor’s office contact 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. If you need help navigating the website to schedule an appointment you can call 1-888-445-4111.
- What if I don’t use a computer? How can I get an appointment to be vaccinated?
Phone lines have been set up for sites administering the COVID-19 vaccine. If you do not have internet access, need assistance connecting to or navigating online resources, require interpretation assistance, are home bound and need transportation, or have other questions about resources your area, you can call the Community Vaccination Line at 1-888-445-4111.
About the COVID-19 Vaccine
- 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.
- How do these new 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 Johnson & Johnson vaccine does not use mRNA. Rather, it's what's known as an adenovirus vector vaccine. It uses the more established approach of employing a harmless cold virus to deliver a gene that carries the blueprint for the spiky protein found on the surface of the coronavirus.
- 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 of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines. 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 percent to 33 percent of patients, sometimes more, including headaches, 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 a few days.
- 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?
- 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.
- Does the COVID-19 vaccine require two doses?
Two of the currently authorized vaccines (Pfizer and Moderna) require two doses. Individuals are considered fully vaccinated 14 days after receiving a second dose of Pfizer or Moderna vaccine. The third currently authorized vaccine (Johnson & Johnson) requires a single dose. Individuals are considered fully vaccinated 14 days after receiving that dose.
If I receive a two-dose vaccine, 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 three currently authorized vaccines, individuals are considered fully vaccinated approximately 14 days after their final dose. For Pfizer and Moderna vaccines, individuals are considered fully vaccinated 14 days after their second dose. For the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, individuals are considered fully vaccinated 14 days after receiving one dose.
- Do I need to wear a mask and practice physical distancing after I am fully vaccinated?
The latest science indicates that fully vaccinated individuals are now able to safely socialize carefully with other fully vaccinated individuals in private settings without physical distancing and without wearing masks. In public places, it remains 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.
- 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. You can also call 1-888-445-4111.
- What if I don’t use a computer? How can I get an appointment to be vaccinated?
Phone lines have been and are being set up for all sites administering the COVID-19 vaccine. You can also call 1-888-445-4111. We ask for patience as these systems are being set up as quickly as possible.
- 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:
- Why was use of the J&J vaccine paused?
On April 13, 2021, after six cases of extremely rare but severe cases of blood clots associated with low platelet count were reported in women who had received the Johnson & Johnson/Janssen vaccine, the U.S. CDC and U.S. FDA paused use of the vaccine. This pause allowed the U.S. CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices to investigate the case reports and assess the safety of the vaccine.
Maine halted use of the J&J vaccine in the state of Maine on April 13, 2021, while the scientific review process took place.
- What did the U.S. CDC and FDA decide after their scientific review of the J&J vaccine?
After an 11-day pause on the use of the Johnson & Johnson/Janssen vaccine to review scientific and case data related to extremely rare cases of severe blood clots, the U.S. CDC and FDA authorized providers to resume use of the J&J vaccine on April 23, 2021.
The pause was instituted after reports of six cases of a rare and severe type of blood clot in individuals following administration of the Janssen COVID-19 Vaccine. During the pause, medical and scientific teams at the FDA and CDC examined available data to assess the risk of thrombosis involving the cerebral venous sinuses, or CVST (large blood vessels in the brain), and other sites in the body (including but not limited to the large blood vessels of the abdomen and the veins of the legs) along with thrombocytopenia, or low blood platelet counts. The teams at FDA and CDC also conducted extensive outreach to providers and clinicians to ensure they were made aware of the potential for these adverse events and could properly manage and recognize these events due to the unique treatment required for these blood clots and low platelets, also known as thrombosis-thrombocytopenia syndrome (TTS).
Following their scientific review, U.S. CDC and FDA determined the following:
- Use of the Janssen COVID-19 Vaccine should be resumed in the United States.
- The FDA and CDC have confidence that this vaccine is safe and effective in preventing COVID-19.
- The FDA has determined that the available data show that the vaccine’s known and potential benefits outweigh its known and potential risks.
- At this time, the available data suggest that the chance of TTS occurring is very low, and the FDA and CDC will remain vigilant in continuing to investigate this risk.
- Health care providers administering the vaccine and vaccine recipients or caregivers should review the Janssen COVID-19 Vaccine Fact Sheet for Healthcare Providers Administering Vaccine (Vaccination Providers) and Fact Sheet for Recipients and Caregivers, which have been revised to include information about the risk of this syndrome, which has occurred in a very small number of people who have received the Janssen COVID-19 Vaccine.
- Can I get the J&J vaccine now?
Yes, the Johnson & Johnson vaccine is available to individuals age 18 and older, per the emergency use authorization.
COVID-19 Vaccine Supply
- How many doses will the state receive of the COVID-19 vaccine?
Details about Maine’s COVID-19 vaccine orders are available here.
- Why can’t Maine provide COVID-19 vaccine to every doctor’s office, especially those in rural areas?
Ensuring that, in time, every person across Maine, regardless of where they live, can get a COVID-19 vaccine is critically important to the Mills Administration.
Unfortunately, right now, providing a COVID-19 vaccine is much more complicated than giving a flu shot. For example, one of the vaccines in use from Pfizer requires storage in ultra-cold freezers that only a limited number of health care facilities have.
Once a vial of the Moderna vaccine is opened, all 10 doses in it must be provided within 6 hours to prevent wasting a single dose. Also, because some individuals experience side effects after receiving a dose, there must be 15 to 30 minutes of observation by a medical professional.
Further, physical distance must be maintained at every stage of the process for safety. The reporting requirements, along with other rules for accountability, are greater than those for many other vaccines.
As the supply of vaccines expands, Maine will provide COVID-19 vaccines to doctors’ offices that are willing and able to efficiently administer the COVID-19 vaccine to eligible patients. In the meantime, we encourage all providers in Maine to refer their patients to one of the many sites open to the public.