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At the December 15 meeting of the City Council’s Public Safety Subcommittee, City Manager Steven Buck and Fire Chief Steve Benotti reported on plans for the Sanford Fire Department to assist with vaccinating Emergency Medical Services personnel throughout York County against Covid-19.

Chief Benotti told the Subcommittee that all full-time SFD personnel are licensed EMTs, so will be included in Phase 1a of Maine’s vaccination program. They will vaccinate each other, but not all on the same day, as there is potential for side effects. SFD will work with Kennebunk and Old Orchard Beach Fire Departments to distribute the vaccine to all York County fire departments. Some personnel will go to other communities to administer the vaccine there. He said the actual shot is very quick to administer, but the paperwork is time-consuming.

The Moderna vaccine, which is expected to be approved this week, is the one that will be used. The second dose needs to be given 28 days after the first. The target date for vaccine distribution is December 21. Personnel who refuse the vaccine will have to sign a form documenting their refusal.

Mr. Buck said fire department employees giving the vaccine will be paid at the special duty rate, and the city will be reimbursed for each shot administered. He believes that the reimbursement rate is more than enough to cover the city’s cost.

Maine’s Covid-19 Draft Vaccination Plan, which has been posted on the state’s website since October, currently lists all first responders and high-risk workers in health care facilities as part of Phase 1a.

Phase 1b includes older adults living in congregate or overcrowded settings; and people of all ages with comorbid and underlying conditions that put them at significantly higher risk for the virus.

Phase 2 includes the following:

  • Critical risk workers: workers who are both in industries essential to functioning of society and at substantially high risk of exposure
  • People of all ages with comorbid and underlying conditions that put them at moderately high risk
  • All older adults not included in Phase 1
  • Teachers and school staff
  • People in prisons, jails, detention centers, and similar facilities, and staff who work in such settings

Phase 3 includes:

  • Children
  • Young adults
  • Workers in industries essential to the functioning of society and at increased risk of exposure not included in Phase 1 or 2

Phase 4 includes any Maine resident who has not already received the vaccine.

The Vaccination Plan is still categorized as a draft, meaning it can be revised at any time. Phases 2, 3 and 4 will likely be broken down into sub-phases, with categories defined in more detail, as the plan evolves. Categories may also be shuffled around to different phases. You can read the full plan here.

At his Wednesday press briefing, Dr. Nirav Shah of Maine CDC recommended people who have already had Covid-19 also get the vaccine. Preliminary research suggests that the vaccine may boost the immunity acquired from having the virus, to provide longer protection from reinfection.

Image by Hatice EROL from Pixabay

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