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Originally published in Island Ad-Vantages, April 9, 2021 and The Weekly Packet, April 9, 2021 and Castine Patriot, April 8, 2021
As COVID-19 cases rise, more people can get vaccinated
Mainers 16 and older now eligible

COVID-19 Local Updates Fall/Winter 2020
Click here to see the full COVID-19 Local Updates Fall/Winter 2020.

More COVID-19 vaccine microclinics are popping up locally as Mainers from ages 16 to 49 became eligible for a shot on April 7. In April, the towns of Brooksville, Deer Isle, Sedgwick and Stonington planned to hold clinics even as Northern Light Blue Hill Hospital and Walgreens in Blue Hill continue to administer the vaccine.

Meanwhile, COVID-19 cases are surging in Maine. “There are concerning signs on the horizon,” said Dr. Nirav Shah, director of the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention in a virtual news conference on April 6.

At the same time, Shah said, vaccination rates are rising. For Maine residents 16 and older, 41.2 percent have had their first shot and 28.2 percent have had their final shot.

“We are one of the better-performing states,” Shah said. “If any state has a good shot of outrunning this increase in case rates, it is going to be Maine.”

Concerning signs

The number of COVID-19 cases reported daily is increasing, especially among young people, according to the Maine CDC. On April 4, the seven-day average of new cases rose to 281.7, twice as high as two months earlier, according to Maine CDC. The seven-day average had fallen to 131.6 during the third week in February, but then cases began to rise again. They continued to rise after March 26, when Gov. Janet Mills loosened the restrictions on travel, gatherings and bars.

Young Mainers are increasingly catching the virus, while people 50 and older are less vulnerable because they’ve been vaccinated, according to Maine CDC. Mainers younger than 50 accounted for 62.3 percent of all new cases on April 5, up from 37.5 percent just three weeks before on March 15.

Maine public health officials urged young residents to get vaccinated to halt the spread of the virus.

“The more we can get young people vaccinated in the state of Maine … the sooner we can get at this rise in cases and get back to normal,” said Health and Human Services Commissioner Jeanne Lambrew during the April 6 news conference.

Demand for vaccinations has exceeded supply, and appointments fill up rapidly. Mass vaccination clinics, however, often have slots available. The nearest mass vaccination sites to our area are at the Cross Center in Bangor and the former Family Dollar in Ellsworth, both run by Northern Light Health.