As Maine grapples with a surge of COVID-19 cases, more children and adults than ever are getting vaccinated.

On Saturday, the state reported that 69.89 percent of all Mainers are fully vaccinated.

Additionally, the number of people receiving booster shots has jumped to 370,684, the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention reported. That’s up from 280,626 on Nov. 28.

With hospitals full and a COVID-19 surge raging in Maine, demand is high as pharmacies struggle to keep up. Many people are scrambling for appointments.

Like Mike Thompson-Brown of Portland. Along with hundreds of others, he stood outside in line Sunday waiting for his booster at a community vaccination clinic at Chaval, the second weekend the restaurant hosted such a walk-in clinic. Thompson-Brown said he tried to schedule a shot online. “No luck,” he said. “It’s very limited in trying to find a booster. My doctor has me scheduled for February.” Walk-in clinics help speed things up,” he said.

Michael Scearce of Portland also was there to get his booster. He’s said he’s not overly concerned about getting COVID-19, “but I’m trying to be cautious.”


Statewide, more children ages 5-11 are not only vaccinated, but also fully vaccinated. Maine has vaccinated children about twice as fast as the national average.

On Sunday, the state showed 19,121 children ages 5-11 were fully vaccinated, a robust number considering children in that age group could not get their first shot until early November. Another 31,847 children ages 5-11 have had their first COVID-19 vaccine, the state reported.

Samar Post Jamali, a nurse practitioner, gives Matt Wagner his COVID-19 vaccine booster at a pop-up vaccine clinic at Chaval in Portland’s West End on Sunday. Brianna Soukup/Staff Photographer

Among those who’ve received their second shot is second-grader Jack Nickerson, 7, who on Sunday was in line with his mother, Mandy Nickerson of Gorham. She was at Chaval waiting for her booster.

“We were on the fence about it,” Nickerson said of getting her son vaccinated. Reducing the odds that her child would lose in-person school time helped her decide. When a student is in close contact with someone at school who has COVID-19, it means the close-contact student must quarantine and not have in-person school for 14 days, Nickerson said. “Once he’s fully vaccinated, they waive that.”

Chaval owner Ilma Lopez said she’s hosted Sunday’s clinic because “why not?” Pointing to people in line, she said, “their health, our health, is the same,” adding that it’s important for everyone to be fully vaccinated and boostered. Despite hundreds waiting in a line, which went down Pine Street and turned onto Brackett Street, Lopez vowed to keep the clinic open Sunday “until we run out of vaccine.” Sunday’s clinic, and another held on Saturday at the downtown Portland Mechanics Hall, were administered by Local Roots Health Care of Kennebunk.

Boosters and other COVID-19 vaccines are also available with no appointments at the Auburn Mall, hosted by Central Maine Health Care, on Tuesday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. The Auburn Mall is administering about 700 doses a day, and of those 500 are walk-ins, Amy Lee, vice president and chief operating officer of Central Maine Medical Group said Sunday. “We hear a lot from community members, including many from outside the Lewiston-Auburn area, about how they appreciate the convenience of the walk-in option.”


Northern Light Health is holding a series of “booster blitz” vaccine clinics at the former Pier 1 building at 368 Maine Mall Road this week and next. The no-appointment-necessary clinics will be held on eight days: Dec. 14-18 and 21-23.

People wait in a line that wrapped around the block for a vaccine clinic Sunday at Chaval in Portland’s West End. Brianna Soukup/Staff Photographer

While Maine continues to have among the most vaccinated populations in the country, there are wide disparities among counties. Cumberland County is the most vaccinated, with 80 percent of the population fully vaccinated. In Franklin and Somerset counties, the rates of full vaccination are 58.5 percent and 57.2 percent, respectively.

The CDC classifies Maine’s transmission rate as high, and it recommends mask wearing in all indoor public settings. Maine’s surge is so voluminous that Gov. Janet Mills has called in the National Guard and federal health care professionals to help hospitals overwhelmed with sick patients. Those cases are being driven by pockets of unvaccinated people who are spreading the virus and filling hospitals.

During the last week, Maine Medical Center ran out of critical care beds and had to refer patients showing up at the emergency room to other hospitals. The Portland hospital also closed 12 operating rooms in recent days to increase the number of doctors and nurses who could take care of sick COVID-19 patients and others who are seriously ill. Other hospitals in Maine are also experiencing too many patients. On Thursday, patients waited in their cars at Stephens Memorial Hospital in Norway because there were no safe rooms in the hospital to put them, emergency department nurse Kevin Hodson said.

On Sunday, the state reported 369 people hospitalized with COVID-19. Of those, 115 are in critical care, 57 are on ventilators. The majority of those hospitalized are unvaccinated, according to Maine CDC Director Dr. Nirav Shah. The state does not report new cases on Sunday.

On Saturday, the state reported two deaths, bringing the total number of COVID-19 deaths to 1,367. The total number of cases since the pandemic began numbers 129,997, which means about every one in 10 Mainers has been infected with COVID-19.

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