Sarah Singer, a Brunswick school board member and mother of three, standing next to her son Truman Kosinski, 10. Kosinski received his first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine at the Coffin School vaccination clinic on Monday. C. Thacher Carter / The Times Record

A COVID-19 vaccine clinic for children ages 5-11 opened Monday afternoon at Brunswick’s Coffin School, and 8-year-old Sam Feeley was among the first in line to get the shot.

“It went smoothly,” Feeley, a Brunswick local, said, adding that he was motivated to get the vaccine to protect himself from the virus. “It didn’t really hurt, it just kind of felt like someone was pinching your arm a little bit.”

The clinic will run from Nov. 8-17 with the goal of vaccinating 2,400 children through 10 sessions. Appointments are open to all eligible children, not just those in the Brunswick School Department, and the clinic will be set up again at the Coffin School on Nov. 29 to begin administering second dose shots.

Appointments run from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Friday, with a double shift scheduled for Saturday. The Pfizer vaccine was federally approved for children aged 5-11 on Nov. 2.

“It’s safe and effective, and it’s the right thing to do to protect our family and our community,” said Feeley’s mother, Brunswick resident Emily Rines who also has a 12-year-old that is vaccinated. “My whole family is now vaccinated, we’re happy to be doing our part to keep the community safe, and this is what we have to do to move past COVID.”

According to Melissa Fochesato, the COVID-19 vaccination clinic coordinator at Mid Coast Hospital, opening day at the Coffin School was remarkably smooth. The clinic drew families from throughout the Midcoast, she said, as well as from more southern areas like Portland and Windham.

“The challenge is always flow, we just always have to think like families,” Fochesato said. “Our goal is to do a loop, so that there is no crisscrossing, and we achieved that.”

For Sarah Singer, a member of the Brunswick School Board with three children in the district, getting her 10-year-old son vaccinated at the clinic on Monday was an emotional moment, followed by a sense of relief.

“It’s been like almost two years of our kids just hearing it, and worrying about it, and stressing about it,” Singer said. “So, I feel like right now in any way that we can sort of alleviate that stress for them and say like ‘this keeps you safe,’ because I think they carry that fear, it’s like an invisible fear all the time.”

Singer’s son, Truman Kosinski, said a big motivation for him to get the vaccine was that he will be allowed to travel again. “I was very nervous going into it, but after I got it, it felt fine and was good,” he said.

A sign directing parents and children at the Coffin School COVID-19 vaccine clinic. C. Thacher Carter / The Times Record

According to Mid Coast Hospital Chief Medical Officer Dr. Christopher Bowe, the Coffin School clinic is the hospital’s initial large-scale effort to vaccinate as many children as possible. Later next week on Thursday and Friday, Bowe said, clinics will be set up at local schools in Bath, Brunswick, Freeport, Topsham and West Bath.

Of the 2,400 appointments at the Coffin School clinic, Bowe said, roughly 400 remained available on Tuesday morning.

“Fortunately, we received our full requested order, so the supply of vaccine has been great,” Bowe said. “The demand has also been high, which is exactly what we expected similar to when the age eligibility dropped to the 12 to 17 year olds with Pfizer back in May I believe.”

The key difference between the adult and children vaccine is simply a smaller dose for kids, Bowe said, and the make-up of the vaccine is the same. Side effects of headaches, muscle aches and pain at the injection site are the most common, Bowe said.

As of Monday, there were eight active cases of COVID-19 in the Brunswick School Department across four schools, with 36 total cases detected since the beginning of the school year.

According to the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention, as of September, the average vaccination rate among Brunswick school department staff was around 95%, with a high of 100% at the junior high school and a low of 88.8% at Harriet Beecher Stowe Elementary.

The Maine CDC estimates that over 95% of students 12-18 are vaccinated in the Brunswick School Department. According to Superintendent Phil Potenziano, approximately 76% of Brunswick High School students are vaccinated.

According to Maine CDC, just over 73.9% of eligible Maine residents had received a final dose of the COVID-19 vaccine as of Monday. As of Tuesday, 108,710 cases of COVID-19 have been reported in total statewide, resulting in 1,215 deaths. In Cumberland County, 22,691 cases had been reported and 236 deaths.

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