By Shelley Farrington Lincoln News • February 11, 2021
KATAHDIN REGION – Now that Millinocket Regional Hospital has begun hosting public COVID-19 vaccination clinics, MRH Infection Preventionist Todd Phillips, RN, BSN, MPH said he’s been hearing a lot of questions about the process.
Below are some sample questions and his answers to help education citizens and hopefully alleviate concerns patients may have.
How does MRH choose who gets an appointment for a vaccine? Phillips – “We just began the public phase of vaccine distribution. Our first clinic was completed on Feb. 4 and the recipients were chosen by their primary care providers as being high risk and qualifying under the limitations under the current Maine CDC Phase 1b.
Are vaccines given first come first serve? Phillips – “The timing of your registration does not affect when you will receive your appointment.”
Does a 90-year-old get it before a 70-year-old? Phillips – “We continue to review the collection of preregistrations as they pertain to people’s eligibility in the current phase (1b) and create vaccination groups from that list.”
Does someone that is in poorer health get it before someone with no chronic conditions? Phillips – “We are currently focusing our efforts on those that are older than 70 years of age and will be working through members of the community that fall into the other categories as more vaccine becomes available.
The guidance from the Maine CDC that is currently available for Phase 1b is found below:
- People Aged 65 and Older: Given the limited number of vaccines, people aged 70 and older will be vaccinated first in Phase 1b. Maine will then move to residents aged 65 to 69.
- Adults With High-Risk Medical Conditions: Individuals whose pre-existing health conditions put them at greater risk of hospitalization or death from COVID-19. The U.S. CDC has identified such conditions; which Maine health care experts and clinicians will review. Depending on the size of this group, individuals may be vaccinated in stages, for example, starting with older high-risk people or people with two or more pre-existing conditions.
- Critical Frontline Workers (to be determined): While the U.S. CDC advisory committee has recommended that the following critical workers be considered frontline: food and agricultural workers, Postal Service workers, manufacturing workers, grocery store workers, public transit workers, those who work in the education sector (teachers, and support staff), and daycare workers, the State of Maine will review this list and make determinations as this phase approaches.”
How come I haven’t received a call yet as I’ve talked with others that have and I signed up two months ago? Phillips – “You have not received a call because we do not yet have a vaccine for you. You will receive a call with an appointment time only after we receive vaccine, you are preregistered, and you fall into the current phase. The supply of vaccine has been limited up to this point. We are certain to administer the vaccine we do receive as quickly and equitably as possible.
How are people who don’t have computers or limited ability getting registered? Phillips – “We have taken a multi-tiered approach in an attempt to reach people where they are. Examples include: mailings to patients of MRH Family Medicine and Primary Care Clinics who have been seen in the past three years. This mailing included very specific and direct instructions on what our plan is and what you, the patient, can do to get registered. We have posted updates to our Facebook page; kept our website updated with the most current information from the Maine CDC; created an additional place for people to register online; created a dedicated telephone line for people to call and register and have continued to offer updates and stories to the Lincoln News.
Can someone go onsite to places like Terra Haute, Crestview and vaccinate folks that live in the housing complexes? Phillips – “The logistics of providing vaccinations to people in their homes is daunting. However, with that being said, we are currently working with primary care providers in our area to identify patients that are limited by their mobility, homebound status, or other factors that would keep them from being able to travel to one of our vaccination clinics. If you are physically incapable of getting to your vaccination appointment, then please speak to your primary care provider.
What about the nursing home? Phillips – “Residents and staff of long-term care facilities were part of Phase 1a of the Maine CDC plan. If a resident or staff member missed their opportunity to be vaccinated during that time, they may contact their primary care provider or facility director to arrange for a vaccine.”
To register online for a vaccine go to www.mrhme.org/getvax