By Shelley Farrington Lincoln News • April 29, 2021
MILLINOCKET – The announcement last Friday that the Federal Drug Administration (FDA) had cleared the Johnson & Johnson one-shot COVID-19 vaccine for use added back another weapon in the Millinocket Regional Hospital’s arsenal for battling the pandemic in the Kathadin region.
MRH Infection Preventionist Todd Phillips, RN, BSN, MPH said MRH will now be able to offer both the J &J and Moderna vaccines giving residents a choice. Phillips endorses all the vaccinations (MRH is unable to provide the Pfizer vaccine due to its requirement for ultra-cold storage) and said any choice does what is needed – prevents hospitalizations and deaths.
MRH staff have consistently said getting vaccinated is the number one way an individual can protect themselves, their friends, families and fellow community members against the coronavirus. It is the pathway back to “normalcy.”
According to the Maine CDC those who are fully vaccinated no longer have travel restrictions including testing and quarantining requirements and small friends and family groups can now gather without the masking requirement.
As vaccination totals grow, recently MRH announced it had provided 5,571 citizens will full vaccine protection representing 53 percent of its service area. Knowing that others in the region have received vaccinations from other sources, the regional vaccination rate is even higher.
A growing number that brings better health and hope to the region, MRH Marketing Coordinator Katie Mackin said. Continuing the vaccination of its service community is of highest priority with MRH and providers know the “pause” in the use of the J&J vaccination has caused some to maybe rethink their acceptance of that vaccine.
Phillips said he understood the hesitancy but added that the vaccine science is sound and the value of the protections the vaccine provides outweighs the very small risk that’s been revealed. He said the hospital will now offer the option between the two vaccines as one may work better with an individual’s lifestyles (one shot vaccine versus two) than another.
Those who have not been vaccinated but now want the vaccine should register online at www.mrhme.org/getvax as soon as possible. The hospital is still maintaining a vaccination registry as clinics will still by appointment only.
In fact, the hospital has done such a great job tackling the registration list that it no longer needs the large space at the Stearns Junior/Senior High School gym so staff are working out the details to conduct future shot clinics at MRH. The first “smaller scale clinics” were held April 28 and 29 at MRH.
These clinics are still by appointment only and staff strongly encourages those wanting to be vaccinated to register with MRH via the online registration or by phone at 723-7225. In order for MRH to continue to receive vaccine it must show a need in the region so it is critical that anyone wanting to be vaccinated register.
Citizens are encouraged to check out the MRH Facebook page and watch the Lincoln News/Katahdin Region News for updates and more information on upcoming clinics.