By Shelley Farrington Lincoln News • May 13, 2021
MILLINOCKET – Continuing its unwavering commitment to the Katahdin region, Millinocket Regional Hospital officials announce that they’ve obtained access to the Pfizer vaccine and will be providing a clinics specifically for 12 to 18 year olds on May 19 at Katahdin High School in Sherman and May 21 at Stearns Junior Senior High School.
A follow up clinic with the second dose is set for June 9 at Katahdin and June 11 at Stearns.
Previously MRH staff had to refer citizens in that age group to Bangor and other surrounding clinics that offered the Pfizer vaccine – MRH was not able to meet the ultra-cold storage requirements for it.
However, MRH Infection Preventionist Todd Phillips, RN, BSN, MPH, explained that the storage requirements have changed as it’s been learned that the Pfizer vaccine can be safely stored in refrigeration available to MRH for five days.
Due to this change, MRH Marketing Coordinator Katie Mackin said with the help of the schools, MRH will determine how many vaccines are needed and then order that number so none are wasted or need to be stored past that five day window.
“This is exciting and exceptional news,” Phillips said. “Prior to this we had to refer those in that age group to Bangor, not ideal for many in our service area, so we worked to find a solution and we did. We are so excited to offer this and we need parents and guardians to get their young adults registered.”
Phillips said MRH will be working with local schools to identify eligible students and they will be given fact sheets and consent forms to be reviewed, signed and returned to the schools. The deadline for students to order the vaccine is May 17. One parent or guardian will be permitted to accompany the child at the clinic if they want to.
Children and families do not need to use MRH or be patients of MRH medical practitioners to take part in the clinic.
Mackin added that Q & A sessions are being set up with details announced soon.
Phillips said he knows there are still questions and concerns regarding vaccinating students and he’s happy to speak with parents and guardians to help ally and fears.
“The expansion in the vaccine eligibility accounts for an additional 17 million children which comes at a time when people under 18 years of age account for one of every five newly reported coronavirus infection,” Phillips said. “While children recover well from the infection they are also more likely to be asymptomatic, which increases the risk of spreading it to older members of their families.”
With more than 53 percent of the adult population of its service area fully vaccinated, Phillips said MRH is now hoping to get as many children and young adults vaccinated as well continuing that climb toward community/herd immunity.
“We’ve been fortunate to have a close relationship with our colleagues at the Maine CDC which has allowed us to identify and anticipate the next population in our community to be served by our vaccination efforts,” Phillips said.