DHHS Partners with Area Agencies on Aging and Community Groups to Vaccinate Older Mainers

Mar 18, 2021

Under Maine’s age-based approach to vaccination eligibility, scores of older Mainers most at risk of serious illness and death from COVID-19 are receiving vaccinations. As of March 17, 77 percent of Maine residents age 70 and older and 49 percent of residents age 60 to 69 have received their first dose of vaccine.

The Maine Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) Office of Aging and Disability Services has worked closely with Area Agencies on Aging (AAAs) and community partners to provide education and outreach about the COVID-19 vaccine, assist older Mainers in scheduling vaccine appointments and accessing transportation, and implement a successful pilot program to provide in-home vaccination to homebound Mainers.By leveraging this preexisting network, which also includes AARP, local providers, and rural hospital systems, Maine has made significant progress in ensuring that older Mainers receive the COVID-19 vaccine.

Since Maine’s vaccination efforts commenced in January 2020, AAAs and community partners have assisted by:

  • Mobilizing volunteer networks to make and answer thousands of direct calls to and from older Mainers to provide information, answer questions, and assist those who have not yet been vaccinated to schedule appointments and access transportation assistance if necessary;
  • Identifying clients who are homebound and not able to attend a vaccine clinic;
  • Assisting EMS to provide in-home vaccinations to homebound individuals and standing up local mini clinics; and
  • Providing support to vaccination clinics in reaching older Mainers, including contacting those on “standby” lists who are eligible to utilize unused vaccine doses.

DHHS partnered with Androscoggin Home Healthcare and Hospice and St. Mary’s Regional Medical Center to implement a successful pilot program providing in-home vaccination to older Mainers. The pilot enlisted 14 nurses who vaccinated 50 Mainers, including home-health and palliative care patients, and the spouses of homebound individuals who are 70 or older. DHHS looks forward to expanding the program in Androscoggin County and statewide.

The Maine CDC Public Health Nursing Program (PHN) is also working with long-term care facilities to vaccinate residents and staff. To date, PHN has supported 40 long-term care and senior living facilities in providing COVID-19 vaccine to staff and residents, administering over 2,357 doses (both first and second doses) during that time. Moving forward, PHNs will assist with additional rounds of vaccinations for new long-term care residents.