PRESQUE ISLE — In an effort to make COVID-19 vaccines more accessible, particularly to teens and 12-year-olds, Northern Light AR Gould Hospital is taking their clinic on the road to several local schools and offering a special Saturday family clinic in its pediatrics practice.
“First it was about getting shots in arms as quickly as we could. For that, a mass vaccine clinic was the answer. Now it’s time to make a change so we can reach those pockets of people who couldn’t make it to that location during the hours offered. With the recent announcement that Pfizer can now be given to those age 12 and over, it’s also time to take extra steps to get the youth in our community taken care of,” explained Jay Reynolds, MD, senior physician executive at the hospital.
AR Gould staff traveled to Washburn High School on May 5 as a pilot program to determine best protocols for offering the vaccine in schools. A dozen students and a staff member were vaccinated. Now that the age has changed, a team from the hospital will return to Washburn on May 20 to vaccinate the younger students.
A team from AR Gould will also be traveling to several other local high schools in coming days: Mars Hill on May 17, Easton on May 18, Ashland on May 20, and Presque Isle (at both the high school and middle school) on May 24. A return trip to each school will take place three weeks after the initial visit to administer dose two of the vaccine.
“Schools will be sending consent forms home for parents who want their child vaccinated to sign. Some schools will be mailing these forms, while others are sending them home with students,” said Jessica St. Peter, director of quality and coordinator of the vaccine clinics. “We cannot vaccinate a minor without a signed consent, so it is really important that parents get this form completed and returned if they want their child to be vaccinated in the convenience of the school setting.”
In addition to the school clinics, the hospital will be offering a family clinic on Saturday, June 5, at its Northern Light Pediatrics practice on North Street. The Pediatrics team will be offering vaccines to those age 12-18, but also to any family members who attend the clinic with them who are eligible and have not yet been vaccinated. The clinic will run from 9am to 1pm; people can preregister using Northern Light Health’s online tool or can just walk-in.
Appointments on the online tool (covid.northernlighthealth.org) will be open to the public on Monday, May 17 at 2 p.m. The tool will allow people to register for both the first and second dose clinics at the same time. People should only register for the first dose clinic if they are able to also make it to the clinic on Saturday, June 26, for their second dose.
In addition to these offerings, AR Gould Hospital is moving its COVID-19 vaccine clinics to its Walk-In Care locations in Presque Isle (23 North Street) and Caribou (118 Bennett Drive) effective Wednesday, May 19. Vaccines will be available on Wednesdays and Saturdays from 2-7 p.m. People can register online (covid.northernlighthealth.org) or just walk in without an appointment. This replaces the large-scale clinics that were formerly taking place at Northern Maine Community College.
Individuals scheduled for Dose Two vaccines on Friday, May 14, and Thursday, May 27, should note that those two clinics will still take place at Northern Maine Community College. They mark the last two clinics planned at this location.