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Maine Will Help Small Organizations Start Pop-Up Vaccine Clinics In More Underserved Places

Coronavirus shots Maine Great Cranberry Island
Robert F. Bukaty
Associated Press
FILE- Maureen Giffen administers a COVID-19 vaccination to Josh Gray in a community center on Great Cranberry Island, Maine, Friday, March 19, 2021.

Maine has now crossed the milestone of delivering a first dose of coronavirus vaccine to 50 percent of its population.

But demand for the shots has waned recently, and health officials are trying new strategies to spur vaccinations.

Health care providers went all out during the first part of this year, converting empty sports arenas into large scale vaccine clinics providing thousands of shots a day. But demand for the shots does not seem to be as great among the younger populations that are newly eligible for them.

So providers are closing mass vaccine sites in places such as Bangor and Scarborough, and instead focusing their efforts on doctor's offices, schools and pop-up clinics.

At a Wednesday briefing, Maine Health Commissioner Jeanne Lambrew said a new online application would allow organizations in remote areas or with low vaccination rates to hold clinics for 10 or more people.

"We're not just expecting people to come to sites, we're trying to move those sites to where people are," she said.

Almost half of Maine's new coronavirus infections since April 1 have been in people younger than 30. Since the state first opened vaccines to people 12-15 years-old last week, more than 8,000 from that group have received a first dose.

The Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention reported 202 new cases of COVID-19 on Wednesday, after that number was under 200 for a couple days.

That brings the total number of cases recorded since the pandemic began up to 66,315.

Two more people with the disease have died, raising the death count to 807.

The state agency reports 113 patients are hospitalized, 42 are in critical care and 20 were on ventilators as of yesterday morning.

More than 54% of the those eligible for vaccination in Maine have received their final shots.

The Maine CDC’s next briefing on the pandemic is scheduled for 2 p.m. Wednesday. Maine Public will bring that to you live.