Harper Tenenbaum, 13, receives her first dose of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine at InterMed in South Portland on Tuesday from nurse Emily Morey. “We are super excited,” said her father, Dr. Andrew Tenenbaum, an InterMed pediatrician who works out of the South Portland location. “There’s definitely a large number of parents who were eagerly awaiting this decision.” Gregory Rec/Portland Press Herald

In an attempt to get students vaccinated before summer, three Midcoast school districts are hosting clinics next week following the FDA’s decision on Monday to allow individuals 12 and older to receive the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine.

On Wednesday both Brunswick School Department and Regional School Unit 1, which serves Bath, Arrowsic, Phippsburg, West Bath and Woolwich, announced upcoming school-based vaccine clinics for students 12 and older. Regional School Unit 5, which serves Freeport, Durham and Pownal, announced their clinic on Thursday.

All three clinics are in partnership with Mid Coast Hospital and will be offering the Pfizer vaccine for free. Parental permission is required for all students under the age of 18.

The announcements align with a larger trend happening across the state as more schools and workplaces begin to offer vaccinations.

“There is a bit of a rush on this because this is the Pfizer vaccine and you need a second shot three weeks later,” said Mid Coast Chief Medical Officer Dr. Christopher Bowe. “So school is out pretty soon in June, so we really kind of have one great week that’s an opportunity for us to push to do this.”

The Brunswick School Department’s clinic will be held at the Coffin School, with the first shot offered on May 20 and a second dose on June 10. RSU 1 will be stationed at Morse High School, with the first shot on May 19 and a second on June 9. The RSU 5 clinic will be located at Freeport Middle School on May 21, with the second dose on June 11.

In the letters sent out to parents and guardians of students in all three school districts, school officials encouraged vaccination, citing safety, convenience and effectiveness.

Bowe also said that the hospital is still working to determine how many students will participate in each clinic and that Mid Coast Hospital is continuing to talk with other schools for more potential partnerships.

“Hopefully, in many ways, it will make this a much more normal summer for kids,” Bowe added.

Brunswick School Department Assistant Superintendent Shawn Lambert agreed, noting two “time pressures” at play, the first being anticipating when the FDA and CDC would approve eligibility for younger individuals.

“The other one, which is definitely a significant one, is we knew we needed to get both shots in by the end of the year,” Lambert said. “This will remove barriers and hopefully just give [students] protections, give the community protections that will help make this a more enjoyable summer for everybody.”

Brunswick resident and father of two Matthew Mower was in favor of the school-based clinic, saying he believes it will make schools safer and help bring students back into the classroom.

“I see a lot of bickering online about mandated vaccines, vaccine passports, etc. I think if we can continue to focus on getting the vaccine to those willing to take it, some of these side debates won’t matter …,” Mower said.

As of Monday, 46 students and 10 staff members have tested positive for COVID-19 since September in RSU 5.

In the Brunswick School Department, there have been 70 total COVID-19 cases, six of which are still active.

As of Thursday there have been 16,718 reported cases of COVID-19 and 798 deaths in Cumberland County. Statewide, there have been 65,043 reported cases and 798 deaths.

As of Wednesday, 51.75% of Mainers had received both shots of the COVID-19 vaccine.

For more specific information regarding a school’s vaccine clinic, visit their websites at brunswicksd.org, rsu5.org and rsu1.org.


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