WATERVILLE — State health officials are using milkshakes as the latest incentive to get more people vaccinated against COVID-19 as cases continue to climb and hospitalizations hit record highs.
Tuesday from 3-5pm, McDonald’s at 336 Main St. in Waterville will host a free COVID-19 vaccination clinic, coordinated with restaurant owner Mike Ortins and the Maine Center for Disease Control & Prevention.
Area residents who want a first or second dose of a vaccine or booster can choose between the two-dose inoculation of Pfizer or Moderna or the single-dose of Johnson & Johnson.
In return, those who receive a vaccination on Tuesday will be offered a free milkshake from McDonald’s.
“We meet people where they are,” tweeted Dr. Nirav Shah of the Maine CDC Monday, responding to news about the McDonald’s clinic.
Meanwhile, local pediatricians have begun to inform families that clinics would be available this week for children aged 5 to 11, following the introduction earlier this month of vaccination clinics in schools for younger children.
The announcement Monday of the planned clinic for McDonald’s came as state health officials reported a pandemic record of COVID-19 hospitalizations, with 296 statewide, up from 287 on Sunday.
Of the 296 hospitalized with COVID-19 on Monday, 87 were in intensive care and 36 were on a ventilator. The latest increase in hospital admissions in Maine has been primarily among those who have not been vaccinated, making up nearly two-thirds of all hospitalized patients, according to public health officials.
Updated numbers of cases are expected Tuesday, after 848 new cases of COVID-19 and three deaths were reported on Saturday.
Earlier this month, federal regulators approved vaccines for ages 5 to 11, and booster eligibility standards were extended to anyone 18 or older last week.
In Kennebec County, health officials report that approximately 62.5% of the population has been fully vaccinated, which contrasts with neighboring Somerset County, where 56% of residents have been vaccinated.
Statewide, 68% of the population is fully vaccinated against COVID-19, according to the Maine CDC.
In Somerset County, a vaccination clinic is scheduled to take place Tuesday at Quimby Elementary School’s gymnasium at 263 Main St. in Bingham from 4 to 7 p.m. The first hour should be set aside for children to receive their first dose of the Pfizer vaccine. The clinic is open to community members who would like to receive a Moderna or J&J booster injection.
The Maine CDC’s website also tracks the locations of COVID-19 vaccines across the state, including many Hannaford, Walgreens, CVS, and Walmart pharmacies.
“Most of the confirmed clinics are in pharmacies and healthcare facilities, although the Augusta Fire Department is apparently working to set up a pediatric vaccination clinic soon,” said Robert Long, a spokesperson for the Maine CDC.
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