New recalls targeting the omicron are pouring in in Maine, with thousands of shots entering the weapons every day, although there are some supply constraints.
The Maine Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that the state has averaged about 2,700 booster shots per day since Sept. 8, when supplies became more robust. That’s about 500 booster shots a day in late August, before the booster shot targeting omicron was approved by the federal government on September 1.
Maine has had greater booster usage than the national average, with 65% of Maine residents receiving at least one booster dose since the original boosters became available in fall 2021. Nationally, approximately 35% of the US population has received at least one booster. dose.
“I’m happy with our position,” Maine CDC director Dr. Nirav Shah said in an interview Tuesday. “The geographical distribution of boosters extends from the farthest reaches of northern Maine to the tip of southern Maine.”
Shah said the supply is “sufficient, but limited” and Maine is on track to receive its initial order of 80,500 booster doses. There are more supply constraints with Moderna, while Pfizer doses are more plentiful, Shah said. The shots are considered nearly equivalent, although Pfizer is approved for ages 12 and older and Moderna for ages 18 and older. Shah did not have a brand-specific supply breakdown for Maine, but noted that there have been domestic supply chain issues with Moderna that should be alleviated in the coming weeks.
Shah said people having difficulty getting an appointment should choose Pfizer over Moderna.
Booster shots are available for those who are at least two months past their last dose. For those who have had a recent COVID-19 infection, the US CDC recommends waiting three months after infection before receiving a booster. Previous booster shots that were discontinued until September 1 have been discontinued.
Patients wishing to receive the new booster must have received the initial vaccination, whether it is one or two vaccines, but they do not need to have received the previous boosters.
Dr. Dora Anne Mills, health improvement manager for MaineHealth, the parent company of Maine Medical Center and a network of health services in the state, said that within the network, appointments you for reminders fill up within 24 hours after they’ve been opened.
“The rise is fast,” Mills said. “The demand is accentuated due to the relative decrease in the supply of vaccines compared to the demand. But for the most part you can find it. It may not be immediately available at the exact time and place you want it, but you can get the call back.
Matthew Marston, vice president and chief pharmacy officer of Northern Light Health, the parent organization of Eastern Maine Medical Center in Bangor and Mercy Hospital in Portland, said vaccinations are underway in ” hospitals, medical practices and retail pharmacies”.
“We have not been limited in the supply of the Pfizer vaccine due to supply. However, statewide Moderna vaccine allocations have been insufficient to meet demand. This should improve in the coming weeks. However, we encourage those looking to get vaccinated not to wait and receive the vaccine that is available to them, as both are considered safe and effective options.
Marston said it didn’t matter which vaccine patients had previously received because “Pfizer and Moderna can be swapped with each other for booster doses.”
The differences between fall 2021 – when the first booster shots were approved – and now, when some people are getting their fifth shot, make comparisons difficult. The pandemic is different, with more treatment options available, the virus mutating, and more people with immune protection from vaccines, previous infection, or both. Additionally, the initial booster doses that began being given in the fall of 2021 were initially recommended primarily for people aged 65 and over, whereas currently anyone 12 and over can receive a booster shot. .
Nevertheless, the uptake is similar with approximately 2,500 injections administered per day from October 1 to 10, 2021, compared to approximately 2,700 injections per day from September 9 to 19, 2021.
Booster shots come as the number of COVID-19 cases surge in Maine, with 14-day trends showing a 12% increase to an average of 241 daily cases, according to the New York Times COVID-19 tracker . However, hospitalizations have fallen by 10% in the past 14 days, with 153 people currently in hospital testing positive for COVID-19.
Shah recommended that people get the flu shot at the same time as the COVID-19 booster. Most pharmacies and doctor’s offices offer both at the same time.
“The way I think about boosters is that we winterize our car, we winterize our house, and as far as our body goes, we should winterize our body with boosters and flu shots,” Shah said.
President Biden, meanwhile, sparked controversy on Sunday when he declared on ’60 Minutes’ that the ‘pandemic is over’. The World Health Organization – which determines whether the world experiences a pandemic – has made no such statement.
Shah said that although the WHO maintains that the world is still grappling with the COVID-19 pandemic, it can understand what the president is saying.
“The president is looking at things from a very different perspective, reflecting on where (Americans) are on a personal level,” Shah said. With vaccines, effective treatments and tools people can use to protect themselves from the virus, society is “in a much different place than we were two and a half years ago.”