More Maine adults have been getting the COVID-19 vaccine over the past few weeks, driving up the state’s overall vaccination rate as young children also become eligible.
The increase is in line with national trends, as high case numbers this fall and employer vaccination mandates have pushed more people to get the shot. But it comes as cases here remain high with the contagious delta variant continuing to spread, particularly in the least-vaccinated parts of the state.
The seven-day average of new first doses administered in Maine climbed last week to more than 1,800, more than double a month earlier and the highest level since June, according to federal data. Boosters and second-dose vaccinations have also increased markedly.
Nearly 88 percent of Mainers 12 and older have now had at least one dose, the data suggest. If about 1,500 people in that age group continued to get first doses each day, the state would near a 100 percent vaccination rate in about three months. But closing that gap could be a challenge as mandates run into vaccine hesitancy. While most health care workers opted to get vaccinated due to the state’s mandate, at least hundreds still left their jobs.
The recent rise in vaccinations predates approval of the Pfizer COVID-19 for children between the ages of 5 and 11. Just shy of 1,000 Maine kids in that age group have gotten the vaccine since it was authorized last Tuesday, according to data from the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention. Vaccinations are likely to pick up more this week with the rollout of the vaccine at larger providers and school-based clinics.
Vaccination rates continue to vary widely within Maine, with more than 90 percent of people 12 and older fully vaccinated in Cumberland County, which also continues to see Maine’s lowest COVID-19 case rate. By contrast, only 68 percent of eligible residents are fully vaccinated in Somerset County, where the case rate remains Maine’s highest.