PORTLAND, Maine (AP) — Maine has started its rollout of COVID-19 vaccines to middle schoolers and early high schoolers.
U.S. regulators this week expanded the use of Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine to children as young as 12. Health care providers in Maine said they began giving the shots to children age 12 to 15 in the state on Wednesday.
Northern Light Health said it would offer the vaccine to everyone eligible at its clinic at Portland Expo starting on Wednesday. Central Maine Healthcare said it started providing the vaccine to newly eligible children at its high-volume vaccination site at the Auburn Mall on Wednesday as well.
“This is an important step forward in our work against COVID,” said Dr. Nirav Shah, director of the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention. “Kids can transmit COVID, for example, to older people who live in their household.”
The expansion of eligibility for a vaccine came as Maine continued to outpace most of the nation in vaccine progress. About 59% of the eligible population in Maine has received at least a first dose of the coronavirus vaccine.
About 40% of the state is fully vaccinated. That number is about 32% for the country as a whole.
Providers who are offering the vaccine in Maine said children need parental consent to receive one.
Shah also said the state's mobile vaccination unit will be extended until July 2. The clinic provides vaccines to adults only at this time.
In other coronavirus news in Maine:
The number of daily cases also continued to decrease.
The seven-day rolling average of daily new cases in Maine did not increase over the past two weeks, going from 352.14 new cases per day on April 26 to 278.14 new cases per day on May 10. The seven-day rolling average of daily deaths in Maine did not increase over the past two weeks, going from 1.43 deaths per day on April 26 to 1.00 deaths per day on May 10.
The AP is using data collected by Johns Hopkins University Center for Systems Science and Engineering to measure outbreak caseloads and deaths across the United States.
The Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention reported there have been more than 64,000 positive cases of the virus and 798 deaths in Maine since the start of the pandemic.
Maine has decided to give its “School Nurse of the Year” award to all the school nurses in the state.
Gov. Janet Mills, a Democrat, and the Maine Department of Education said Wednesday they and the Maine Association of School Nurses are recognizing all school nurses as the “School Nurse of the Year” for the 2020-21 school year.
Mills and the education department said the coronavirus pandemic has taxed resources at school districts throughout the state. School nurses have had to take on new responsibilities to help keep students healthy and schools safe, they said.
School nurses “have helped adapt with grace and grit to protect the health of our children,” Mills said.
Wednesday was National School Nurses Day.