AUGUSTA, Maine — COVID-19 vaccines for kids ages five to 11 went into the arms of elementary school-aged kids in Maine just hours after the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention gave the shots the final green light Tuesday night.
Maine is receiving 33,900 shots for distribution to hospital systems and their clinics, as well as 16,000 doses going to pharmacies and federal programs in the state.
Maine's Department of Health and Human Services estimates roughly 96,000 kids are now eligible for the shot, meaning more than half could get their first shots this week.
WHERE TO GET THE SHOT
The state is running school-based clinics in partnership with some of Maine's larger hospital systems, including MaineHealth, MaineGeneral, Northern Light Health, and Central Maine Healthcare.
Northern Light Health will open its online portal for appointments on November 8.
Kids can also get the vaccine at their doctor's office or at a retail pharmacy, including Hannaford, Walgreens, and Walmart or Sam's Club.
MaineGeneral's spokesperson wrote in an e-mail:
- Starting Nov. 8, offering the vaccine in schools just as we do for flu vaccination (we have already finished our flu vaccination program in schools but will be going back to do COVID-19 vaccinations). These clinics will run on a schedule that will be provided in advance to parents of children in those schools. Again, the schedule we have developed (attached) is tentative based on supply of vaccine received.
- A vaccination clinic on a Saturday, Nov. 13, 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Alfond Center for Health in Augusta. A scheduling system will be in place shortly for this clinic.
- Offering the vaccine at MaineGeneral pediatric practices (Kennebec Pediatrics and Winthrop Pediatric & Adolescent Medicine) by appointment and at special clinic times to be determined.
MYOCARDITIS 'RARE,' SHAH SAID
Doctor Shah addressed a concern he has heard from parents about young kids getting the shot: a phenomenon called myocarditis.
That condition is when the heart gets inflamed. Shah said it is a very rare side effect of the COVID-19 vaccine.
He said the U.S. CDC is aware of 877 reported cases in people under the age of 30 out of 86 million doses administered.
None of those people has died.
In a separate study, 90% made a full recovery in a matter of days.
The clinical trial of Pfizer's kid-sized vaccine found no cases of this.
Shah said the virus itself can cause myocarditis, and the risk of getting it from COVID is 15 times higher than getting it from the vaccine.
"If myocarditis is your main concern when it comes to your child's health, the question on the table is this: with COVID at high levels in Maine right now, what's the greater risk? To me, it's clear, the greater risk right now is from the virus, not the vaccine," Shah said.
CONTEST TO WIN $1000s FOR SCHOOLS
Maine's Department of Health and Human Services announced a contest for kids ages 5 to 17 to create a short video that explains the benefits of getting the shot, or the risk of not getting vaccinated.
The winner gets $50,000 for their school. Second place gets $25,000, and third place gets $10,000.