By Shelley Farrington Lincoln News • April 22, 2021
KATAHDIN REGION – The upcoming April 24 Millinocket Regional Hospital vaccination clinic is very important to the more than 200 citizens receiving their second dose of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine but also marks an incredible milestone to the administration and staff at MRH.
That clinic will bring the total number of MRH supplied fully vaccinated Katahdin region residents to 5,571 translating to 53 percent of the hospital’s primary and secondary service areas. (As of the last available census data in 2019 the communities of Millinocket, East Millinocket, Medway, Patten, Sherman, Stacyville, Benedicta, Mattawamkeag and Woodville have a combined population of 10,500).
The number is very likely higher as some community members have traveled to other clinics and pharmacies to get vaccinated.
In addition 96.6 percent of MRH staff is now also fully vaccinated.
These are numbers that are exciting, humbling and extremely important to MRH as the hospital strives to help citizens reach herd/population immunity which is considered when 85 percent of the population is fully vaccinated.
According to information from the CDC herd/population immunity occurs when enough people have protection from the virus making it hard to spread from person to person and is vital in protecting those who can’t be vaccinated including babies, children and those who are allergic to the vaccine.
“Vaccinations are the key to building population immunity and ending this pandemic,” said MRH CEO Bob Peterson, D. Sc., FACHE.
Reaching the 53 percent mark is a testament to the hard work and continued care provided by MRH staff. The planning of clinics including adapting to various vaccination supply each week, setting up appointments, coordinating volunteers and creating a caring and efficient vaccination process has only been accomplished with the determination of MRH staff, a citizenry that cares about its health and the cooperation of community partners.
“The most basic mission of the hospital is to take care of people and promote public health,” said MRH Marketing Coordinator Katie Mackin, “these clinics fulfill that and are key to getting the region back to better health and what we’d consider ‘normal.’ But we certainly could not have accomplished this amazing goal without the support of citizens who want to get vaccinated to protect themselves and their community and the amazing partnership with the Millinocket School Department.”
MRH Infection Preventionist Todd Phillips, RN, BSN, MPH, agreed and said it’s been amazing and truly humbling to be part of the vaccination clinics and see hope restored to so many people. He added that the 53 percent vaccination figure should definitely be celebrated but the mission continues and more vaccinations are needed.
Phillips said he knows there are still people who are undecided about receiving a vaccination but if they don’t feel it’s important to do for themselves then do it for those living around them.
“If you’re hesitant think of this,” Phillips said, “the more people vaccinated the less illness in our region, less restrictions, less chance of virus mutations, less chance for community spread and a quicker return to ‘normal’ something everyone is striving for.”
According to the Maine CDC 38 percent of the state’s population has been fully vaccinated as of April 19, and 50 percent of resident 16 years and older have received at least one dose. Numbers like that have placed Maine as the national leader in percentage of total population that is fully vaccinated.
There has been much reported on the concerns and issues with getting rural Mainers vaccinated. Thanks to the efforts of MRH citizens of the Katahdin region have had consistent access to vaccines and the advantages that come with it.
To sign up for a MRH vaccine clinic go to www.mrhme.org/getvax or call 723-7225.
If you have a child aged 16 to 18 you can check out the Northern Light Health public vaccination website at https://covid.northernlighthealth.org/