The Belfast vaccine clinic (Photo by Ethan Andrews)
The Belfast vaccine clinic (Photo by Ethan Andrews)
Beginning Monday, April 19, all Maine residents age 16 and older will be eligible for vaccination against COVID-19. As of this writing, anyone over 50 and workers in certain high-risk occupations (see exceptions below) can get the shot. It wasn’t supposed to happen this quickly, but the state bumped up the timeline in anticipation of an increase in vaccine supply from the federal government and in response to reports from some Maine vaccine providers of openings in their appointment schedules.

The state has set up an online pre-registration system (vaccinateme.maine.gov) to get in line for the vaccine even if you are not eligible yet. However, the system is not being used by some large health care providers, including MaineHealth and Northern Lights, which have their own sign-up systems. Anecdotal accounts suggest that getting vaccinated, for the eligible, is sometimes really easy and sometimes maddeningly difficult. Providers we called typically had phone or online systems that were similar to any phone tree or online ordering form. All of them required at least a little patience from the patient.

Where and how to get vaccinated

Pharmacists are exhausted from answering questions about the COVID-19 vaccine. Schedule an appointment online or through an automated system if possible (see list below).

What you need at your appointment

A driver’s license or state ID and your insurance card is all you need. If you don’t have insurance, the provider will bill you for the administrative fee to give the vaccine. The cost of the vaccine is covered by the federal government.

Workers who are eligible for early vaccination (see exceptions below) should bring a pay stub or statement from their employer, according to a representative on the governor’s COVID-19 vaccination hotline.

Getting the second shot

If you get one of the two available vaccines (Pfizer and Moderna) that require two shots, schedule your second shot with the same clinic, pharmacy or health care provider that gave you the first shot.

Other questions

A more exhaustive FAQ on COVID-19 vaccinations can be viewed online at maine.gov/covid19/vaccines.

The Maine COVID-19 Community Vaccination Line (888) 445-4111 is available Monday through Friday, 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., and on Saturday and Sunday, 8 a.m. to 2 p.m.

The hotline was set up to help residents who do not have internet access, need assistance connecting to or navigating online resources, require interpretation assistance, are homebound and need transportation, or have other questions about resources in their area.

How are we doing?

As of March 19, more than 352,000 Maine people had received a first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine — about 26% of the population, according to data provided by the state. Roughly 16% had been fully vaccinated.

Among Maine residents age 60 or older, roughly 64% had received at least one dose, and 35% had completed the vaccine series. Maine currently ranks fifth best nationwide for the percentage of its population fully vaccinated.

For a running tally of Maine vaccination statistics, visit the state’s COVID-19 vaccination dashboard: maine.gov/covid19/vaccines/dashboard.

Exceptions

Workers in some fields are eligible for vaccination now regardless of age:

Health care – Personnel in health care settings who have the potential for direct or indirect exposure to patients or infectious materials. Maine defines these settings as: hospitals, long-term care facilities, outpatient clinics, physician practices or dental practices, pharmacies, home health care, emergency medical services, public health settings, school nurses and school health clinics.

Teachers — pre-K-12 school staff and child care providers.

Public Safety — Personnel at fire departments, in public law enforcement (federal, state and local), officers at correctional facilities, the Transportation Security Agency and Customs and Border Patrol, who regularly have direct contact with the public.

COVID-critical infrastructure — Certain personnel in the following agencies and companies that are working directly on COVID research and manufacturing: Maine DHHS and CDC, Maine Emergency Management Agency, Abbott and IDEXX Laboratories, Jackson Laboratories, Puritan Medical Products. These vaccinations are being arranged by the employers.

Not eligible from the above groups are: personnel in health care who don’t deal directly with the public, administrative workers in those agencies and industries who do not deal directly with the public, funeral home workers, nannies, personnel in social services, at homeless shelters, and in direct support positions, among others.

Vaccination sites in the midcoast —

Augusta

MaineGeneral Vaccine Clinic: Call (866) 968-8219. For hearing-impaired individuals, dial 711.

Bangor

Penobscot Community Health Center: visit: pchc.com/vaccines.
Northern Light Health Vaccine Clinic: Visit covid.northernlighthealth.org/publicvaccine or call 204-8551.
St. Joseph Hospital: Preparing to begin scheduling appointments. For the latest information call 907-3441.
Sam’s Club: visit: samsclub.com/covid.
Walgreens *
Walmart **

Belfast
MaineHealth Vaccine Clinic: Call (877) 780-7545 or visit vaccine.mainehealth.org.
Walgreens *

Bethel
Walgreens *

Boothbay
MaineHealth Vaccine Clinic: Call (877) 780-7545, or visit vaccine.mainehealth.org.

Boothbay Harbor
Walgreens *

Brewer
Walgreens *
Walmart **

Brunswick
MaineHealth Vaccine Clinic: Call (877) 780-7545, or visit vaccine.mainehealth.org.
Hannaford ***
Walmart **

Bucksport
Walgreens *

Camden
Hannaford ***
Walgreens *

Damariscotta
Hannaford ***
Walgreens *

Gardiner
Walgreens *

Hampden
Walgreens *

Pittsfield
Northern Light Health Vaccine Clinic: Visit covid.northernlighthealth.org/publicvaccine or call 204-8551.
Walgreens *

Rockport
MaineHealth Vaccine Clinic: Call (877) 780-7545, or visit vaccine.mainehealth.org.

Rockland
Hannaford ***
Walgreens *

Thomaston
Walmart **

Vinalhaven
(patients only) Islands Community Medical Services: Call Anna Clapham at 863-4341, ext. 1126.

Waterville
Hannaford (Elm Plaza) ***
Walgreens *
Walmart **

* Walgreens: Visit walgreens.com/schedulevaccine or call (800)Walgreens. Walk-ins are not accepted.

** Walmart: Visit walmart.com/COVIDvaccine. Check your eligibility before scheduling an appointment.

*** Hannaford: At this writing, local Hannaford pharmacies were not administering COVID-19 vaccines yet, but the store appears on the state’s list of providers and is expected to have the vaccine soon. For current information and to schedule an appointment when the option becomes available, visit hannaford.com/pharmacy/covid-19-vaccine. If the online scheduler does not have an appointment available, do not call the pharmacy. The scheduler updates in real time and accurately reflects appointment availability.