Penboscot Bay Press Compass Logo

Penobscot Bay Press
Community Information Services

News Feature

Our Community
Originally published in Castine Patriot, January 28, 2021 and Island Ad-Vantages, January 28, 2021 and The Weekly Packet, January 28, 2021
COVID-19 vaccine still hard to come by
State to create central registry

COVID-19 Local Updates Fall/Winter 2020
Click here to see the full COVID-19 Local Updates Fall/Winter 2020.

by Leslie Landrigan

As COVID-19 spreads on the peninsula and island, demand for the COVID-19 vaccine is far exceeding supply, according to state and county officials. The shortage results from limited shipments of doses to the state and flawed delivery of the supplies that do arrive.

“We are still severely vaccine constrained,” said Dr. Nirav Shah, director of the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention in a Zoom conference on January 27.

Andy Sankey, director of the Hancock County Emergency Management Agency, said in a phone interview he has a list of about 800 state, federal and local employees and volunteers to be vaccinated. They include EMTs, game wardens, law enforcement officers and volunteer firefighters. Some have been vaccinated, while others are still waiting, he said.

“It’s a little bit hand to mouth,” he said.

Sankey said the county first received 50 doses, and then another 100. But vaccine temperatures exceeded their limit during shipment of the second batch, and so the county was resupplied. He said on January 25 that he was waiting to hear if the second batch could still be used.

Central registry to come

People who want vaccine shots are finding it difficult to get on a schedule at their local hospital or clinic because of overwhelmed telephone lines and complicated online registration forms, Shah conceded.

Shah said the state is working on a central registration system that will include a website and telephone call center. People who register will then be notified by the state when there are vaccine doses available someplace close to them.

Shah said the system is two to four weeks away from going live. “I’d rather do it right than do it fast and slipshod,” he said.

He also said the Trump administration had been working on a national registry but that it didn’t work well enough for the state to use.