COVID-19 Vaccination in Maine

Page last updated 02-26-2021. This document will be updated on an ongoing basis. 

Public FAQ

Related:  FAQs: Vaccination for Maine Health Care Personnel

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?

The 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.

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:

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.

COVID-19 Vaccine Eligibility

Who is eligible for vaccination now?

Maine is using an age-based approach to vaccination eligibility that reflects recent scientific data indicating that age is among the strongest predictors of whether an individual is likely to get seriously ill and die from COVID-19, even more so than risk factors such as underlying medical conditions.

At this time, vaccine availability is limited to health care workers and emergency responders, Maine’s most vulnerable residents, such as Mainers living in nursing facilities, and Maine residents aged 70 and older. As of March 3, 2021, Maine's vaccine eligibility age groups will be:

March 3: Age 60 and older
April: Age 50 and older
May: Age 40 and older
June: Age 30 and older
July: All ages, including children pending authorization of a child vaccine

This age-based approach reflects recent data indicating age as among the strongest predictors of whether a person may become seriously ill and die from COVID-19, offers greater certainty and predictability for Maine people to know when they are eligible for vaccination, and is easier for vaccine providers to implement and verify.

Only Maine residents are eligible to receive a vaccine in Maine at this time.;

This schedule is are subject to change, and the specific timeline for each vaccine phase depends on vaccine availability.

Who is considered a Maine resident?

A Maine resident is defined as an individual living in the State of Maine with the intent to remain indefinitely, or has entered the State with a job commitment or seeking a job. Proof of residency includes but is not limited to a Maine-issued driver’s license or state identification card; a bill or other piece of mail that includes the person’s name and Maine address; or, in the case of individuals entering the state for a job, a letter or statement from their employer verifying their employment in Maine.

Does my doctor or local hospital decide whether I am eligible get vaccinated?

No. Given the extremely limited supply of COVID-19 vaccines, both the Federal and State governments -- rather than individual health care providers -- determine when groups of people can get vaccinated. To ensure public safety, vaccination started with health care personnel and critical public health and public safety workers.

Maine is now vaccinating people who are at greater risk of serious illness or death from COVID-19, including residents of long-term care facilities and those age 70 and older.

You can find information on this plan at maine.gov/covid19/vaccines or search “Maine COVID vaccine” and click the official website link.

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. Only frontline workers in organizations determined by Maine CDC to be critical to the Maine COVID-19 response are eligible to get vaccinated at this time. Those organizations have been notified by State officials.

When can the general public expect to be vaccinated?

Maine anticipates that residents of all ages will be eligible for vaccination beginning in July.

I am age-eligible. 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. This list will be updated as regularly as more vaccination sites become available. 

Scheduling Your COVID-19 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. The supply of vaccines remains extremely limited.

Why can’t I sign up and be contacted when it’s my turn?

Some clinics have the ability to create a list and call back people when appointment open up, but not all are able to do so now.

I am age-eligible. Why isn’t my doctor’s office contacting me to help me get the 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 211.

What if I don’t use a computer? How can I get an appointed to be vaccinated?

Phone lines have been and are being set up currently for all sites administering the COVID-19 vaccine. You can also call 211. We ask for patience as these systems are being set up as fast as possible.