Belgrade resident Dr. Stephen Sears, formerly Maine’s state epidemiologist, will talk with local citizens in an online conversation Thursday, Jan. 14, about the latest information regarding the coronavirus, vaccines and what to expect in the coming months, according to a news release from the Town of Belgrade.

The program will begins at 6:30 p.m. on Zoom at bit.ly/3hnom48. Questions for Sears will be accepted via Zoom’s chat feature and the Town’s Facebook page. The discussion will be guided by Jay Bradshaw, a Belgrade resident, former paramedic and retired executive director of Maine Emergency Medical Services. Bradshaw serves as executive director for the Maine Ambulance Association.

The most recent Maine CDC data reports 30 cases of COVID-19 in Belgrade since March. The FDA has approved two vaccines; others are in various stages of development, research and trial studies. The World Health Organization has named vaccine hesitancy one of the top 10 threats to global health.

Sears will talk about the vaccine’s development and the challenges of inoculating enough people to obtain what’s referred to as “herd immunity.”

Sears was drawn out of retirement to serve as a clinical advisor to the Maine Centers for Disease Control’s COVID-19 response team. Sears served as the State of Maine epidemiologist from 2009 to 2014, during which he confronted the H1N1 epidemic and the challenge of broad vaccination. Sears was MaineGeneral Health’s chief medical officer from 1988 to 2007.

Because the Town of Belgrade’s Zoom account can accommodate only 100 viewers at a time, the conversation also will be streamed live on Facebook at facebook.com/BelgradeMaine. A video of the discussion will be posted afterward at TownofBelgrade.com and on YouTube at bit.ly/3hsYbJu.

The community conversation is organized by the Town’s Communications Committee. An online conversation with Regional School Unit 18 Superintendent Carl Gartley at the beginning of the school year drew more than 100 viewers. Future conversations are planned to discuss items on the March 19 Town ballot and service on Town boards and committees.