A medical assistant applies pressure to a piece of gauze after Jacob Conary received his first shot of the COVID-19 vaccination, Wednesday, May 12, 2021, in Auburn, Maine. Vaccination clinics in Maine recently opened up to 12 to 15-year-olds. Credit: Robert F. Bukaty / AP

PORTLAND, Maine — More than half of Maine’s youngest residents who qualify to get the COVID-19 vaccine are now fully vaccinated.

About 53 percent of people ages 12 to 15 in the state have had their final dose of vaccine, the office of Democratic Gov. Janet Mills reported on Monday. That percentage trails the state’s overall percentage among eligible people, which is 74 percent.

Many children are still in the process of getting vaccinated, though, as the percentage that has had at least a first dose is more than 60 percent.

The state has exceeded 50 percent vaccination of 12 year olds and early teens as vaccines for younger people might soon become available. Pfizer said on Monday that it will seek U.S. authorization for children ages 5 to 11.

Maine has one of the highest rates of coronavirus vaccination in the country. However, increasing the rate of vaccination remains important, said Dr. Nirav Shah, director of the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention, in a video posted recently by the agency.

“The vast majority of people who are still getting COVID-19 are unvaccinated, not vaccinated,” Shah said. “The vaccines are continuing to work extremely well, especially at keeping people out of the hospital.”

Story by Patrick Whittle.