ALFRED — York County Emergency Management Agency was to begin administering COVID vaccines doses to children as young as 6 months old  on Tuesday, June 21, following approval of the vaccines by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Saturday, June 17.

The YCEMA offers vaccines at their facility at the Center for Shopping in Sanford, 1364 Main St. (Route 109) 1 to 6 p.m. on Tuesdays and Thursdays and 10 a.m. to 3:30  p.m. on Saturdays. The center is staffed by vaccinators, clinicians, first responders, and staff from municipalities across York County.

“We will be ready starting Tuesday (June 21),” to vaccinate the very young, said YCEMA Director Art Cleaves. “This age group has been the only one not yet able to receive the vaccine. We are excited to now say that day is here. The York County Vaccination Center is committed to doing its part to putting this pandemic behind us.”

“Our staff has worked to set up the center to be comfortable for children and their families,” said  York County EMA Deputy Director Megan Arsenault. “We have prizes, kid-friendly TV, coloring stations, a nursing area for mothers, and can accommodate siblings or families getting vaccinated together—anything we can do to make this experience as pleasant as possible.”

The vaccine center is drop-in only.

U.S. CDC Director Rochelle P. Walensky on Saturday endorsed the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices’ recommendation that all children 6 months through 5 years of age should receive a COVID-19 vaccine. According to the U.S. CDC, children can be given the Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna vaccine. All children, including those who have already had COVID-19, should get vaccinated, the CDC said in a news release.


In an earlier interview, Cleaves said at some point he believes second boosters of the COVID vaccine, currently available for those 50 and older and those who are immunocompromised, will be made available to all.

The U.S. CDC in May expanded eligibility of the first COVID-19 vaccine booster to everyone 5 years of age and older.

The county’s Sanford clinic dispensed 77,000 vaccines in 2021, Arsenault told York County Commissioners at a June 1 meeting. While demand has been less than the 900 vaccines administered daily during that time — for the past couple of months the center has been administering about 150 a day— the figure is expected to increase with the approval for vaccines for children 6 months to 5 years old.

“I feel confident the need remains,” said Arsenault. “We’re the only high-volume vaccine center in southern Maine.”

As well as pediatric vaccines, she said she expects an uptick in demand for vaccines in general as fall approaches.

Arsenault said the county has recouped  the $3 million from the federal government it used to operate the vaccine program since its inception. As of July 1, 2022, the reimbursement from the Federal Emergency Management Agency will be reduced from 100 percent to 90 percent, with the state picking up 6 percent, leaving York County responsible for 4 percent of costs, she said.


York County Commissioners on June 1 voted 4-1, with Commissioner Donna Ring dissenting, to continue the county’s civil state of emergency, to keep the vaccine center open and staffed through Dec. 31, and to use contingency funds to provide the county’s expected 4 percent share of costs starting July 1.

Ring estimated the monthly rent of the vaccine center at $23,000 and noted the payroll for the facility for the week before the meeting was $28,000. She said she was proud of everything the county had done, but was looking for an end date.

She noted the county is being reimbursed, but pointed out the funds used to do so are taxpayer dollars.

“I think what’s left can be managed by the medical community,” Ring said.

Commissioner Richard Clark pointed out that in June 2021, it looked like the pandemic was over.

“That changed quickly,” Clark said. “We may be done with COVID, but I do not think it is done with us.”

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