By Shelley Farrington Lincoln News • March 11, 2021
MILLINOCKET – An abrupt change in the state’s COVID-19 vaccination priorities to include all preK-12 school staff and licensed child care workers came just in time for Millinocket Regional Hospital staff to include local school staff members in their mass vaccination clinic held March 6 at Steans High School. Seven hundred and nine vaccines were given by the end of the day.
The second clinic for these citizens will be held April 3.
The addition of local school and childcare workers to the priority list came Wednesday, (March 3) afternoon not leaving staff a lot of time to get appointments for all who qualify. MRH Infection Preventionist Todd Phillips, RN, BSN, MPH said coordination with school nurses and officials was vital in making sure all school staff who expressed an interested in getting vaccinated received appointments Saturday.
“We continue to be thankful for a great working relationship we have with school officials,” Phillips said. “The use of the school building and the gathering of vital information by school nurses and staff made this clinic the success it was. Getting our citizens vaccinated and promoting public health is truly a community effort.”
MRH Marketing Coordinator Katie Mackin said approximately 570 appointments had already been scheduled for the Saturday clinic before he addition of school and child care workers were announced. Once that happened the staff moved to fill many of those appointments with teachers and staff support.
“It’s exciting to be able to help teachers and support staff get vaccinated,” Mackin said. “We know how important it is to our communities to keep schools open and one of the ways we can help do this is to get teachers and staff protected.”
Mackin said at last count about 120 local educators and licensed child care workers got their first vaccine.
Millinocket School Superintendent Frank Boynton, who received his vaccination Saturday, said he is pleased to be able to work with MRH staff to get as many community members vaccinated as possible, including his staff.
“We are happy to have the cooperation between the school and the hospital to give this opportunity to our community,” Boynton said in an email after the clinic. “It has been very beneficial to have the opportunity for our staff to receive vaccinations and be able to move forward in this age of pandemic with the protection that the vaccine offers. I would like to thank the staff of Millinocket Regional Hospital and the school staff who have made this event possible. We continue to look forward to working together in a cooperative manner for the benefit of the community.”
This is the second mass vaccination held by MRH and it allowed more than double the number of vaccinations to be administered. More than 1,500 Katahdin region citizens have received at least their first dose of the Moderna vaccine thanks to MRH’s efforts. It’s an accomplishment that Phillips, Mackin MRH CEO Bob Peterson and other MRH staff are immensely proud of.
“The last year has taken a toll on all of us,” Mackin said, “to be part of the solution is an amazing feeling.”
In a related matter, the second shot clinic for those who were vaccinated on Feb. 17 is scheduled on March 17 at Stearns. Because of that Millinocket Schools will conduct a virtual day