PORTLAND, Maine – MaineHealth, the region’s largest integrated health system, has established a plan for vaccinating its front-line care team following a plan announced by the Maine CDC for the distribution of COVID-19 vaccines over the next two weeks.
MaineHealth is to receive an initial allotment of 1,900 doses of the Pfizer vaccine from the Maine CDC as early as this weekend. With the expected addition of the Moderna vaccine, MaineHealth is anticipating another 15,775 does to arrive the week of December 21.
The initial allotment of 1,900 doses will allow MaineHealth to offer vaccinations to direct care providers at the hospitals in its system that have seen the highest number of COVID-19 patients, including Maine Medical Center, Southern Maine Health Care and Mid Coast-Parkview Health.
Within those organizations initial distribution will focus on Intensive Care Unit teams, front-line Emergency Department caregivers, those providing care in dedicated COVID-19 inpatient units and other critical and essential inpatient services not available elsewhere.
The next shipment of 15,775 doses includes delivery of an additional 975 doses of the Pfizer vaccine and 14,800 doses of the Moderna vaccine and will provide enough vaccine for all direct care providers across the MaineHealth system.
Those receiving the Pfizer vaccine will need a second dose 21 days after the first. The Moderna vaccine requires a second dose after 28 days. The Pfizer vaccine was recommended for Emergency Use Authorization by the Food and Drug Administration’s expert panel on Thursday. The Moderna vaccine will be taken up by the panel Dec. 17.
MaineHealth has formed a system-wide task force with clinicians from all nine of its local health systems to oversee distribution of the vaccine among its front-line caregivers. The task force is actively setting up vaccine clinics. MaineHealth is confident it can quickly administer vaccinations to its care team members across the system as soon as doses become available. While the logistics of storing and transporting the vaccines require planning given that the Pfizer product requires ultra-cold storage and the Moderna vaccine also has to be frozen, the biggest hurdle to overcome is finding doctors and nurses to staff the vaccine clinics. MaineHealth has been actively recruiting staff for the clinics for several weeks.
In a message to MaineHealth’s full care team of more than 22,000 employees, MaineHealth’s chief medical officer, Dr. Joan Boomsma, MD, and its CEO, Bill Caron, acknowledged the significance of the arrival of the vaccine, but also noted that much work remains to support MaineHealth’s patients and communities during the pandemic.
“We are all anxious to put this pandemic behind us, and the arrival of a vaccine is a real sign of hope,” said Boomsma and Caron. “However, we all must continue to be vigilant, and all precautions will remain in place. We are well supplied across our system with personal protective equipment, and we have a solid plan in place to deal with the surge in cases now under way with the arrival of colder weather.
We will continue to prioritize our care team in this crisis. Your work on behalf of our patients and communities is both appreciated and inspiring.”
MaineHealth is a not-for-profit integrated health system consisting of nine local hospital systems, a comprehensive behavioral healthcare network, diagnostic services, home health agencies, and more than 1,700 employed and independent physicians working together through an Accountable Care Organization. With close to 22,000 employees, MaineHealth is the largest health system in northern New England and provides preventive care, diagnosis and treatment to 1.1 million residents in Maine and New Hampshire. It includes Franklin Memorial Hospital/Franklin Community Health Network in Farmington, LincolnHealth in Damariscotta and Boothbay Harbor, Maine Behavioral Healthcare in South Portland, MaineHealth Care at Home in Saco, Maine Medical Center in Portland, Memorial Hospital in North Conway, N.H., Mid Coast-Parkview Health in Brunswick, NorDx in Scarborough, Pen Bay Medical Center and Waldo County Hospital in Rockport and Belfast, Southern Maine Health Care in Biddeford and Sanford, Spring Harbor Hospital in Westbrook and Stephens Memorial Hospital/Western Maine Health Care in Norway. MaineHealth Affiliates include Maine General Health in Augusta and Waterville, New England Rehabilitation Hospital in Portland and St. Mary's Regional Medical Center in Lewiston. It is also a significant stakeholder in the MaineHealth Accountable Care Organization in Portland.