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Vaccine availability for kids ages 5-11 is growing rapidly in Maine, Shah says

More than 3,000 Maine children between the ages of 5 and 11 have received first doses of the COVID-19 vaccine since federal regulators expanded eligibility last week.

Carol Bousquet
On Nov. 3, 2021 Michael Grantham, 8, from Falmouth gets the first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine.

According to figures from the state, the 3,136 shots represents just over 3% of the more than 96,000 children in that age group. But state CDC director Nirav Shah says the number of schools, hospitals, pharmacies and doctor's offices offering shots to children is growing rapidly. And while some parents have struggled to find appointments, Shah says Maine's vaccination system is "spinning back up" to levels seen earlier during the pandemic.

"We are in line with what I was hoping we would see in terms of uptake and turning up the dial on the intensity and availability of vaccines,” Shah said during Wednesday’s briefing. “We are also in line with what we are starting to see rolling out in other states as well, so I don't have concerns at this point."

At the same time, children age 12 or younger accounted for more than 20% of new COVID cases in Maine during the past two weeks. Shah said Maine has seen an “small uptick” in children being hospitalized after contracting COVID-19 but the numbers remain relatively small. As of Wednesday, there were five people under age 18 hospitalized with COVID-19 statewide out of 225 total hospitalizations.

Federal regulators approved the use of the two-dose Pfizer vaccine in 5- to 11-year-olds last week.