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State pushes to vaccinate 12-to-15-year-olds

New incentive program unveiled for unvaccinated Mainers
By Fran Gonzalez | May 12, 2021

Augusta — As of April, 9% of all new COVID-19 patients in Maine were youngsters 12 to 17years old, according to Dr. Nirav Shah, director of the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention.

In his weekly media briefing Wednesday, May 12, Shah said the disease is serious, affects children, and can contribute to be transmitted, especially to older unvaccinated adults who live in the same household with kids. In a three-week period, he said, younger people have been hospitalized at a higher rate and are mostly unvaccinated.

"It is people not taking COVID seriously and ending up in intensive care units," Shaw said.

The Pfizer vaccine, he said, is 100% effective at preventing 12-to-15-year-olds from contracting the disease. "I urge every family to have the conversation...," Shah said. It is "our ticket back to normal."

After Pfizer recently received emergency use authorization to include adolescents 12 to 15 years of age, Shah said, school districts have begun to offer in-school clinics in hopes of fully vaccinating students by the start of the new school year.

In the past 48 hours since the emergency authorization, Shah said, the demand among the 12-to-15 age group has been strong, and he added that commercial pharmacies will start offering the Pfizer vaccine starting tomorrow. Not all pharmacies will be administering Pfizer, the only vaccine approved for 12-to-15-year-olds, Shaw said, and he encouraged people to call before showing up.

In Maine, he said, approximately 58,000 youth are between the ages of 12 and 15, and an additional 30,000 are 16 or 17.

The weekly allocation of the Pfizer vaccine doses is around 21,000, and Shah said that number is expected to dip in the coming weeks.

Maine CDC reached out to other states that did not need their allotted Pfizer doses immediately, he said, and brought them into the state. In all, Maine received four trays of the Pfizer vaccine, or 4,680 doses, from other states.

The mobile vaccination unit will extend operations through July 2. Shah said the unit was scheduled to wrap up in mid-June, but is extending tours in vaccination-challenged areas in the state for an additional three weeks.

The unit offers the Johnson & Johnson single-dose vaccination, which is not approved for the 12-to-15 age group. Walk-in appointments for those 18 and over are welcome.

For a complete listing of available vaccination sites, including the mobile unit, visit maine.gov/covid19/vaccines/vaccination-sites.

Downtown Lewiston is offering the Moderna vaccine at the municipal lot, with early morning and evening hours for anyone 18 and over.

A new outdoor incentive program aimed at encouraging Mainers to get vaccinated before summer begins was rolled out recently by Gov. Janet Mills.

Mainer 18 and over who get their first dose between May 11 and 31 can use their CDC vaccination card to redeem one of several free giveaways.

Prizes include free fishing and hunting licenses; Wildlife Park passes good for admission through the 2021 season; Maine State Park day passes good through June 15; $20 L.L. Bean gift cards; Portland Sea Dogs admission tickets for baseball games at Hadlock Field; and Oxford Plains Speedway pass for weekly events in the 2021 season.

Maine CDC reported 302 new COVID-19 cases today and one death; a man in his 80s from Cumberland County. In all, 798 people have died from COVID-19 in the state since the pandemic began.

Currently 122 people are hospitalized, 47 are in intensive care units and 25 on ventilators.

A total of 58.5% of all eligible Mainers 16 and over have received their first dose of vaccine, while 53.5% have received all shots needed.

Shah said, "We are making great progress as a state."

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