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Health officials appeal to younger Mainers to get vaccinated

Four new COVID-19 deaths reported
By Fran Gonzalez | Apr 29, 2021

Augusta — In the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention media briefing Thursday, April 29, the recurring theme was the importance younger Mainers' getting vaccinated.

Dr. Nirav Shah, director of the Maine CDC, said among people 50 and over, more than two thirds have received all needed COVID-19 shots, compared to one fifth of people 16 to 49.

Recently, he said, two people in their 20s died from COVID-19. Also, many younger people are experiencing long-term symptoms for weeks or even months that may keep them away from their jobs. Getting vaccinated not only protects an individual from getting the disease, it keeps their family and community safe as well, Shah said.

"Even if you think you are healthy, that you would not be affected by COVID," he said, "you may be interacting on a daily basis with folks who are older, you may be working on a frontline job where you are interacting with all sorts of folks. ... Getting vaccinated is the right thing to do."

Shah said his agency is working to make getting vaccinated an easy choice by offering walk-in hours where no appointment is needed, or after hours clinics when it is more convenient. Currently the Portland Expo is offering walk-in vaccinations where no appointment is needed, he said.

Eliminating the need for appointments, diversifying where the shots are offered and making vaccination easily accessible for everyone is how Shah hopes to get younger people vaccinated statewide.

The mobile vaccination unit, which is geared to reaching people in targeted areas, will be at the Fryeburg Fairgrounds starting Friday, April 30, through May 3.

The Maine CDC is reporting four additional deaths in the state today, including three residents of Androscoggin County and a resident of Kennebec County. Three were women, while one was a man. One was in their 20s, one was in their 40s, one was in their 60s, and one was in their 70s. A total of 782 people have died in the state since the pandemic began.

Currently there are 125 people in the hospital with the disease, 46 in intensive care units and 15 on ventilators.

The state is reporting over 1.1 million doses of vaccine administered, with 627,000 first doses and 501,726 final shots. This translates to 55.7% of eligible people having received their first shot and 47.6% having gotten their final dose.

Speaking about when he thought the state would be hitting the 75% to 85% threshold for epidemiological immunity, Shah said he estimates that by Memorial Day two thirds of the state's eligible population will be vaccinated.

When asked about the variants, he replied that the best defense is to get vaccinated. "Variants emerge when not enough folks are vaccinated," he said.

Asked about graduations, Shah said he would recommend that they be held outside and to make sure there is at least six feet of space between people.

For help scheduling a COVID-19 vaccination appointment, call the community vaccination line at 888-445-4111 or visit VaccinateME.maine.gov. To see the mobile unit comprehensive schedule, visit maine.gov/covid19/vaccines/vaccination-sites#mobileunits.

"The sooner you get vaccinated," Shah said, "the sooner we will be out of the other side of this tunnel."

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