AUGUSTA — The Maine Department of Health and Human Services and Department of Education jointly announced Friday the Mills Administration’s dedicated COVID-19 vaccination clinics for school staff and teachers who are age 60 and older will begin next week.
The State is partnering with more than 25 health care organizations throughout Maine to offer these dedicated clinics which will be held March 12, March 13, and March 14, with a few happening the following week.
Each school district will notify its teachers and staff who are aged 60 and older about where they can sign up for these vaccine clinics.
By providing dedicated opportunities for vaccination for teachers and school staff who are older and at greater risk of illness and death from COVID-19, Maine can further protect schools and provide more consistency in terms of staffing moving forward, a news release noted.
“We thank our health providers who are working extra hours to offer these dedicated clinics to older Mainers who teach and care for our children,” said Jeanne Lambrew, Commissioner of the Maine Department of Health and Human Services. “This extra opportunity will give Maine teachers and school staff who are at greatest risk from COVID-19 access to this safe and effective vaccine.”
“Our schools have been implementing the six health and safety requirements since August and have been successful in keeping both students and staff safe,” said Pender Makin, Commissioner of the Maine Department of Education. “We know that a vaccine will support their ongoing efforts in the classroom. I ask them to remain patient as vaccine doses become available to them.”
Governor Janet Mills announced the dedicated clinics on February 26 when she updated Maine’s vaccination plan to an age-based approach. The update, decided in consultation with Maine DHHS and the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention, reflects recent scientific data indicating that age is among the strongest predictors of whether an individual is likely to get seriously ill and die from COVID-19, even more so than risk factors such as underlying medical conditions, according to the release. Currently, Maine residents aged 60 and over are eligible for vaccines.
On March 2, President Biden issued a directive to make pre-K-12 school staff and licensed child care providers eligible for vaccination, regardless of age. Under the new federal policy, participants in the Federal Retail Pharmacy Program – which includes certain Hannaford, Walgreens and Walmart pharmacies in Maine – are directed to give available appointments exclusively to school staff and licensed child care workers of all ages.
Governor Mills aligned Maine’s vaccination plan with the President’s directive and directed Maine DHHS and DOE to continue their work to stand up dedicated vaccination opportunities for Maine school staff age 60 and older.
The following vaccination opportunities are available:
For teachers and school staff age 60 and older: Dedicated clinics March 12-14 in local regions. Proof of age and employment will be checked at registration.
For teachers, school staff and child care workers of any age: Hannaford, Walgreens and Walmart pharmacies depending on appointment availability.
Additional vaccine clinics in Maine will begin accepting appointments for school staff and licensed child care workers as soon as they are able. Maine school staff and child care providers are encouraged to view Maine’s COVID-19 vaccination website for the most up-to-date information on locations accepting appointments.
According to DOE and DHHS, an estimated 36,400 school staff and 16,000 child care providers become newly eligible under this directive, aside from the 10,632 school staff over the age of 60 already eligible under the Governor’s age-tiered system. The President announced the directive on the same day he announced that the United States would have enough vaccine doses for all adults by the end of May – two months ahead of schedule.
According to the Maine Department of Education, as of February 26, the rate of new cases for school staff or students over the previous 30 days is 25 per 10,000, nearly 70 percent lower than a new case rate of 81 per 10,000 for the general population.
According to the Maine Department of Health and Human Services, 93 percent of child care providers are open statewide, up from a low of just over 50 percent at the start of the pandemic. Fewer than 10 percent of all providers have had a single positive COVID-19 test within their facility since the start of the pandemic.