Northern Light Health's Dr. James Jarvis says a COVID-19 vaccine for the general public could arrive in Maine as early as April.

The vaccine that we've all heard is due to arrive later this month will be given to frontline healthcare workers, according to Dr. Jarvis. This particular vaccine is being sent in much smaller shipments, and must be kept cold until it's used. Because of that, it's not feasible as a vaccine for the general public. Frontline workers are exposed to the virus every day, and so will be the first to receive the vaccine. As of Wednesday, December 2nd, Dr. Jarvis said there are 44 patients with COVID-19 hospitalized within the Northern Light system. Governor Janet Mills revealed yesterday that several states, including Maine, are actually going to get smaller shipments in December than originally expected. She's working on getting answers as to why that number went down.

Dr. Jarvis cautioned that the vaccine will not, immediately, change the current safety protocols. He believes Mainers will still be wearing masks and social distancing a year from now. The only way the vaccine would wipe out the virus is if every single person received it, and if it were 100% effective, and Jarvis says that's not realistic. During flu season, they continue to encourage people to wash their hands and cover their coughs, because no vaccine is 100% effective. And there's a good chance that some people will be resistant to the idea of getting vaccinated, just like they won't get the flu shots.

Dr. Nirav Shah says it's possible the vaccine could arrive earlier than expected. Both he and Dr. Jarvis says their agencies will be ready, with vaccination clinics in place, once it arrives.