Saving lives and preventing serious illness and suffering has been my fundamental goal throughout this pandemic.
Last week I announced how we intend to use the vaccines to do just that.
Hello, this is Governor Janet Mills and thank you for listening.
Well after consulting with the Maine Department of Health and Human Services and the Maine CDC, I concluded that it would be best for Maine people that I adopt an age-based approach to expanding vaccine eligibility.
What does this mean?
Well simply put, your eligibility for a COVID-19 vaccine will be determined by your age.
Why did we make this change?
Well, my fundamental goal throughout this pandemic has been to save lives and protect our most vulnerable people. So the question is, who is it who’s most likely to suffer and even die if they do not get the vaccine?
Medical evidence, scientific evidence backed by the data here in Maine, indicates that age is really among the strongest indicators of whether an individual is likely to become seriously ill and die from COVID-19, more so than other risk factors such as underlying medical conditions.
So after vaccinating our health care and emergency first responders, we moved to vaccinate those 70 and older last month.
So far, more than 70 percent of those people 70 and older have received their first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine.
This achievement is the result of hard work by the Maine Department of Health and Human Services, the Maine CDC, Northern Light Health, Maine Health, and many other health care providers.
We owe them a great debt of gratitude for their work to stand up and run clinics across the state, for getting shots into arms, and, most importantly, for saving lives.
That work must continue.
This week, under the new plan, all Maine people who are 60 years of age or older become eligible for the vaccine. That’s about another 200,000 people in our state.
There is one exception now to the age-based plan because this week, President Biden directed all states to vaccinate school staff and childcare workers.
So under our plan, we had already prioritized vaccinations for school staff within their age categories. But as a result of the new directive, we have updated our plan to make pre-K-12 school staff and childcare providers, regardless of age, eligible immediately for the vaccine.
We will continue to expand vaccine eligibility by age going forward, opening vaccinations to those who are 50 years or older in April, and then 40 years or older in May, 30 years and older in June. Anyone younger than that will be eligible in July.
Well if the supply increases in the coming weeks and months — and the President has promised that it will — and if we are able to make efficient progress, it is possible we can accelerate these timeframes.
We are undertaking the largest mass vaccination effort in our history, and there is no quick and easy way to do this, believe me.
I know that every decision I make will impact people in our state in different ways and I carry with me the weight of making, fundamentally, life or death decisions.
That is why, throughout the pandemic, I have based my decisions in science and fact and have always tried to do what I believe in the best interests of all Maine people. Given that Maine has the oldest population, the oldest median age in the country, this approach, I believe, will benefit the most people in the fastest way possible, certainly compared to the approaches of some other states.
I know this time frame is still fraught with some anxiety and the pandemic is still among us and variants are emerging.
I want you to know that I hear you, that I care about you, and I am grateful to you for your understanding and your patience throughout this historic effort.
We will get through this together.
I pledge to you that we will work day and night to get everyone vaccinated as quickly as possible.
Please keep the faith and stay safe.
This is Governor Janet Mills. Thank you for listening.