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CDC Urges Younger Mainers To Vaccinate After Deaths Of 2 People In Their 20s

Virus Outbreak US
Robert F. Bukaty
AP file
In this March 3, 2021, file photo, senior citizens leave a COVID-19 vaccination site operated by Maine Health in the site of a former department store in Sanford, Maine.

State health officials say that younger Mainers — from age 16 up to their 40s — are slow in getting their COVID-19 vaccines.

"Only one in five has received the shots they need," says Maine CDC director Dr. Nirav Shah.

By comparison, Shah says two-thirds of eligible Mainers ages 50 and up are fully vaccinated.

Two people in their 20s with COVID-19 have died in the past two weeks in Maine. Shah says among recent deaths reported in people younger than 50, only one person had an underlying medical condition. But he says it was not a condition that would typically lead to death.

"It is a stark and sad reminder that COVID is circulating much more widely among younger populations. It is leading to hospitalizations among younger populations. And, as the last week or two weeks of data have shown, it is causing deaths among younger populations as well," he says. "Even though you may think of yourself as healthy and not at risk, COVID-19 shouldn't just be measured just by the deaths that it causes. If you get COVID you may have to be out of work for a long period of time, away from school for a long period time, away from your friends, away from you family."

And, Shah says, many people will be left with long-term complications, and the extent of those complications is not yet clear.

He says if scheduling is a problem, more and more clinics are offering walk-up service, as well as extended hours.

Maine is receiving more than 39,000 COVID-19 vaccine doses next week. It's the maximum amount available to the state, but about 16,000 fewer doses than what came in this week.

Most of the doses will be Pfizer and Moderna, with 3,200 coming from Johnson & Johnson.

The order will be supplemented by doses that are shipped directly to pharmacies and community health centers.

As of Thursday, the state reports that nearly 45% of eligible Mainers have received a complete vaccine series. That translates into 37% of the entire state population, including children under 16 who are not yet eligible.

The Maine CDC reported the deaths of four more Mainers with COVID-19 on Thursday, and added 254 cases. That brings the state's total number of cases to nearly 61,000 since the pandemic began, and 782 deaths.