Members of the Maine Air National Guard, Maine Army National Guard and employees of MaineGeneral assist people in receiving a COVID-19 vaccine Feb. 24 at the Augusta Civic Center. A clinic specifically for educational staff and childcare providers ages 60 and older is planned Saturday. Andy Molloy/Kennebec Journal file Buy this Photo

AUGUSTA — Educators ages 60 and older will be able to get their coronavirus vaccine Saturday at the Augusta Civic Center during a specialty clinic just for teachers, educational staff and childcare providers.

Though all educators across the state are now able to get the coronavirus vaccine, this clinic is specifically for those 60 and older, in compliance with the order of the vaccination plan that Gov. Janet Mills put in place two weeks ago.

In order to attend the clinic, those that meet the guidelines had to be invited by school officials, according to MaineGeneral spokesperson Joy McKenna.

“Only those staff identified by the district received information about the clinic to reserve a spot on the schedule,” she said, adding that they be given specific times for their vaccinations.

McKenna said 57 school staff are scheduled for Saturday and MaineGeneral has been able to accommodate all who have requested an appointment.

The MaineGeneral vaccination clinic at the Augusta Civic Center opened Feb. 17 to start the process of giving out the coronavirus vaccine. In the first week, 1,300 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine were given out.

Saturday’s clinic will be put on by MaineGeneral with the Maine Center for Disease Control and the Maine Department of Education.

Educators across the state are able to get their coronavirus vaccine but have to do so in the correct facilities. Those that fall under the age of 60 will have to seek the vaccine through drug stores across the state, like Walgreens, Walmart and Hannaford.

According to the Department of Education, there are 10,632 school staff members older than the age of 60. It is unclear how many of those individuals have received the coronavirus vaccine.

The state is not requiring educators to get the vaccine if they choose not to, but are strongly recommending people to get it.

Upon arrival, educators  will be asked to bring proof of eligibility, such as a driver license, a bill with a name or address, or any other documentation that can prove their name, age and address. In addition, educators will have to provide either an employee identification card, a pay stub or a letter from the employer.

Augusta Superintendent James Anastasio said at Wednesday’s school board meeting he was alerted about the clinic last Friday and put a list together of Augusta school educators older than 60.

He said 31 educators from Augusta will be getting their vaccine Saturday.

“Our goal is to get as many educators vaccinated as possible,” Anastasio said.

He said many are hoping once they get the vaccine to return to in-person learning, five days a week, but he doesn’t know how possible it would be for the Augusta schools.

“Specifically, with social distancing and the distance needs,” Anastasio said, “there is no way we can bring students in if the guidelines were not greatly reduced.”

The Maine Department of Education said even though the country has changed coronavirus guidelines for classrooms, spokesperson Kelli Deveaux said it’s important to remember that Maine has had some type of in-person learning this whole time.

Many schools in central Maine have using a hybrid-learning approach — with students in school for at least two days a week — since September.

In central Maine, Regional School Unit 12 — which includes Chelsea, Palermo, Somerville, Whitefield and Windsor — has had students in person five days a week since the start of the school year in September.

Deveaux said new Maine case rates are relatively low, demonstrating that the coronavirus guidelines have worked.

“The Federal guidance largely emulates Maine’s framework, recommending the use of physical distancing, of mask wearing, and of a tiered, color-coded advisory system to support schools,” Deveaux said. “However, the Federal guidance is more stringent than Maine’s in some instances, including recommending a minimum of 6 feet between students, masked, at all times, while Maine has adapted the American Academy of Pediatrics’ recommendation of 3 feet for children which has, with other protocols, been successful.”

She added if the United States CDC recommends lifting public health protocols, that Maine will review its guidelines. As of now, even with the vaccine rollout, Deveaux said, the rules are expected to stay the same.

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