Workers stand on the top of Ellsworth High School as they remove old asphalt roofing shingles on Friday, Sept. 17. 2021. Credit: Bill Trotter / BDN

Ellsworth High School’s reported staff vaccination rate jumped by nearly 30 percentage points from August to September after the school initially recorded one of the lowest vaccination rates in all of eastern Maine.

In August, the school reported to the Maine Department of Education that less than half of its staff, 46.5 percent, had been vaccinated against COVID-19. At the time, other high schools in Hancock, Penobscot and Washington counties reported staff vaccination rates ranging from more than 50 percent to around 95 percent.

For September, both of Ellsworth’s schools — its elementary/middle school and its high school — showed significant increases. The high school reported a staff vaccination rate of 75.8 percent, more than 29 percentage points higher than it had been the previous month, while EEMS reported a staff vaccination rate of 75.6 percent, nearly 15 percentage points higher than it had been in August.

Last month, Ellsworth Schools Superintendent Daniel Higgins said more than 100 staff members at the city’s two schools had not yet submitted their vaccination status to the district. The state’s data count those who haven’t responded as unvaccinated, he said.

Higgins said Friday that both schools have shown “marked increases” in the number of staff members who have filed their vaccination status with his office. The vast majority of those who have responded to the district’s staff survey have been vaccinated, he said, but there still are about 45 to 50 staff members who have not yet responded. Staff members who are asked to fill out the survey include everyone who is employed by the district: teachers, custodians, food staff, administrators, clerical employees, substitute teachers, coaches, ed techs and others.

Overall, the school staff vaccination rate in Hancock County for September was the second-highest in Maine, at 87.8 percent, according to state data. Cumberland County had the highest such rate at 90.6 percent.

York, Knox, Waldo and Kennebec counties had school staff vaccination rates between 84 and 87 percent. Piscataquis County had the lowest such vaccination rate in Maine, just shy of 68 percent, followed by Aroostook at 74.1 percent and Washington at 74.9 percent. Penobscot County’s vaccination rate for September was 77.6 percent.

Bill Trotter

A news reporter in coastal Maine for more than 20 years, Bill Trotter writes about how the Atlantic Ocean and the state's iconic coastline help to shape the lives of coastal Maine residents and visitors....