Maine has become the latest state to clear all adults to receive a COVID-19 vaccine booster as cold weather brings a wave of new infections.
Gov. Janet Mills said the move, which allows eligible individuals to receive a booster shot, is aimed at preventing the state’s health care system from being overwhelmed amid a surge of COVID-19 cases, particularly among unvaccinated people.
“With Maine and other New England states confronting a sustained surge, and with cold weather sending people indoors, we want to simplify the Federal government’s complicated eligibility guidelines and make getting a booster shot as straightforward and easy as possible,” Mill said in a statement.
Those who have received the Moderna or Pfizer vaccines must wait at least six months after their last shot to get a booster under the state’s revised guidelines. Johnson & Johnson recipients must wait at least two months from their first shot to get a booster.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention allows for mixing of different COVID-19 booster doses and eligible individuals can choose which vaccine they receive as a booster.
The move made Maine the latest state to circumvent current federal guidelines on boosters. The shots have been cleared for fully vaccinated people who are 65 years and older, adults at a heightened risk of serious infection because of underlying conditions, and those with an increased risk of exposure to the virus at work.
Makers of the vaccines last week asked the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for emergency use authorization to allow all adults to receive their booster doses.
The FDA approved the request on Friday.
But about a dozen states – including Rhode Island, California, Colorado, West Virginia and Louisiana – had already moved ahead with boosters for anyone over 18 with the goal of preventing a spike in COVID-19 infections over the holidays.
The Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention reported 933 new cases of COVID-19, and 11 additional deaths. At least 273 people were hospitalized, 74 of which were in critical care units.
The seven-day average of daily new COVID-19 cases was at 535.4 on Thursday, compared to 558.3 a week ago, state health officials said.
Since the pandemic began, Maine has reported at least 114,065 infections and 1,254 deaths from the virus.
Maine previously cleared boosters for individuals older than 65 or suffering from underlying health conditions that put them at high risk of suffering severe complications from COVID-19.
Nearly 21% of fully vaccinated individuals in Maine have received a booster shot, according to the CDC.
Overall, Maine has vaccinated more than 71% of the eligible population – the third highest vaccination rate in the nation.
Maine Department of Health and Human Services Commissioner Jeanne Lambrew said the state’s high vaccination rate is reducing hospitalizations and deaths but warned that the winter will likely bring a wave of new infections.
“With the continued surge of the Delta variant, we must do all we can to protect Maine people from this deadly virus and ease the burden on our health care workers,” she said. “Now, every Maine adult can get a booster shot to protect themselves, their loved ones, and their communities.”
This article was originally posted on Maine expands COVID-19 boosters to all adults