Governor Mills chats with Morse High School students waiting for their vaccine. Courtesy of Lindsey Goudreau

Morse High School hosted its first COVID-19 vaccination clinic, offering immunizations to district students age 5 and up, with Gov. Janet Mills stopping by for a visit.

Gov. Mills visited with students as they waited for their shots.

“I remember when I was kid getting the polio shot in a school like this only it wasn’t nearly as welcoming and friendly — you stood in line in a cold hallway and got the shot,” she said. “This was this much more welcoming.”

The clinic was operated by MidCoast Hospital under the supervision of Jessie Chalmers, Community Health Program Coordinator, and CHANS Staff Nurse Avanel Payne.

“This is the third school clinic we’ve held this year,” Payne said. “The children did very well, even though their parents aren’t with them.”

Payne said she believes that vaccination will help keep students in school; important not only for their education, but also preventing isolation.


“I’ve been a pediatric nurse for a long time. Social development is as important as educational development,” she said. “The more people who are vaccinated, the sooner we’ll get out of this.”

On Aug. 23, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine for the prevention of COVID-19 disease in individuals 16 years or age and older. As of Oct. 29, the vaccine was made available, under emergency use authorization, for children 5 years of age and older. Morse held two vaccination clinics last spring for students 12 years of age and older with around 100 vaccinations given per clinic. Another 100 vaccinations were given Friday.

Regional School Unit 1 Assistant Superintendent Katie Joseph said the school district chose to host clinics during the school day to remove barriers for parents who want their children to receive the vaccine.

“It is very important that, should a family choose to vaccinate their student, they can access this opportunity regardless of their work schedule, the availability of a vehicle, and relationship with a primary care doctor,” she said. “Equal access to health care and other student services is something that RSU 1 cares about deeply for its entire community.”

Gov. Mills commended the students for choosing to receive the vaccine.

“They’re keeping safe and they’re going to keep their families safe,” she said. “The message I gave to them if there was any anxiety was the one Christopher Robin gave Winnie the Pooh. ‘Always remember: you’re braver than you believe, stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think.’ And those kids are strong, smart, and brave.”

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