Processing Your Payment

Please do not leave this page until complete. This can take a few moments.

October 14, 2021

Vaccination rates jump for Maine health care workers as deadline approaches

File photo Central Maine Medical Center in Lewiston plans to close its neonatal intensive care unit because of staff resignations over the vaccine mandate.

COVID-19 vaccination rates among health care workers have risen, but so has tension about the state’s mandate for the shots as a legal ruling reinforces the requirement, at least for now.

The state has said that all health care workers must get vaccinated and Gov. Janet Mills said she will start enforcing the mandate on Oct. 29. That means workers need to get vaccinated by Friday in order to be fully vaccinated by the deadline.

Nine unnamed workers had sued the state to demand a religious exemption to the mandate. On Wednesday, a federal judge denied the motion for a preliminary injunction, which would have temporarily blocked the requirement. Liberty Counsel, which represents the plaintiffs, has filed a notice of appeal.

In September, vaccination rates among Maine health care workers rose significantly, according to the Department of Health and Human Services. For the period Sept. 1 through Sept. 30, vaccination rates climbed to 91.6% for hospitals. That compared with 84.6% in August.

Among nursing home workers, the rate rose to 85.8% in September, up from 77.7%. For ambulatory surgery centers, the rate rose to 92% in September, from 87.1% in August.

In comparison, the U.S. Centers of Disease Control and Prevention said full vaccination among Maine adults is 80% as of Oct. 12, and 67.9% among all U.S. adults.

“Maine’s health care workers are increasingly receiving these safe and effective vaccines, which will protect their health, their patients’ lives, and our health care system as we continue to fight the dangerous and more transmissible Delta variant,” DHHS Commissioner Jeanne Lambrew and Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention Director Nirav Shah said in a joint statement.

“We continue to urge all Maine people to get vaccinated — it's the best and most effective tool we have to keep our health system strong and turn the tide on this pandemic.”

Meanwhile, Central Maine Medical Center in Lewiston has said it would close its neonatal intensive care unit because of staff resignations over the vaccine mandate. The hospital is part of Central Maine Healthcare. In September, CMMC's vaccination rate rose to 85%, up from 75.3% in August.

Mills said she directed the department to continue working with CMMC, as well as surrounding hospitals, to support critical health services for residents of central Maine.

In August, the governor said workers in licensed health care facilities would be required to get vaccinated against COVID-19, as they have long been required to get vaccinated against other infectious diseases. In September, President Joe Biden announced a nationwide health care worker COVID-19 vaccine requirement that does not include a testing alternative.

Enforcement of Maine’s vaccination requirement for health care workers is supported by the Maine Hospital Association, most of Maine’s health systems and the Maine Health Care Association.

To address both pandemic-related staffing challenges and the longstanding health care workforce issue in Maine, the Mills administration has provided one-time payments of $146 million to hospitals and nursing facilities. Hospitals will receive these supplemental payments this month. 

Sign up for Enews

Related Content


October 14, 2021

It stands to reason that if unvaccinated Central Maine Medical Center employees resign, the percentage of vaccinated employees would increase. I feel like this article is an insult to common sense.

Order a PDF