Maine will offer Portland Sea Dogs tickets, L.L. Bean gift cards, free fishing licenses and other vouchers this month as part of a new incentives program aimed at increasing the state’s vaccination rate against COVID-19.

Speaking during a virtual event with President Biden and five other governors on Tuesday, Gov. Janet Mills said the incentives will be available to individuals who get their first shot by May 31. The list of potential vouchers includes a $20 gift card from L.L. Bean, a ticket to a Sea Dogs game or an Oxford Plains Speedway race, free hunting and fishing licenses, a one-day vehicle to a state park or admission to the Maine Wildlife Park in Gray.

“We’re calling this ‘Your Shot to Get Outdoors’ – oh, it’s corny, I know,” Mills said, eliciting laughs from Biden. “But we know that people in Maine have found refuge and relief in Mother Nature throughout the pandemic. So these incentives will encourage that outdoor activity while getting more shots in arms as quickly as possible.”

Maine currently has the nation’s highest full vaccination rate in the country ahead of Connecticut and ranks fourth in terms of the percentage of the population that has received at least one shot, according to tracking by Bloomberg. But the pace of vaccinations has slowed considerably in recent weeks as demand slackens and public health officials seek to overcome hurdles posed by easy access to clinics as well as vaccine hesitancy among some people.

The Mills administration said quantities of the vouchers will be limited, and they will be available on a first-come, first-served basis. Individuals who are vaccinated at a Maine clinic between May 11 and 31 can register for an incentive starting next Monday by filling out an online form or calling the state’s community vaccination line at 888-445-4111.

The White House organized Tuesday’s event with Biden as a way to highlight innovative approaches to vaccination in states and to unveil several federal initiatives to boost inoculation rates.


For instance, Biden announced that the rideshare companies Uber and Lyft will begin offering free rides to and from vaccination clinics around the country starting later this month and extending through July 4. The Maine Department of Health and Human Services has been offering free transportation to and from vaccination sites since March, available for reservation by calling 855-608-5172.

Biden also announced that federal resources are now available to state, local and tribal governments for “community outreach and engagement.” That could include educational campaigns as well as phone-banking, door-to-door canvassing, pop-up clinics at work places or faith-based and community centers, and efforts to bring more doctor’s offices into the vaccination effort.

The initiatives are part of Biden’s goal of administering at least one shot of vaccine to 70 percent of adults in the United States by July 4.

“That’s a pretty huge job and I acknowledge that,” Biden told the governors. “But you’ve done a remarkable job. And if we succeed, we are going to take a serious step of a return to normalcy by Independence Day. … There is a lot of work to do to get there but I believe we can get there. And part of the reason I am so confident is because of your leadership, the governors, and your partnership with us.”

The New England states are currently getting shots into arms at a faster pace than any other region. As of Tuesday, 69.9 percent of Maine residents age 18 or older had received at least one shot and only Vermont, Massachusetts, Connecticut and New Hampshire had topped 70 percent, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Just over 56 percent of adults in Maine had received the full regimen of doses, which is second only to Connecticut.

There are, however, sizable geographic and demographic gaps in Maine’s vaccination rate.


Each of the governors participating in the virtual meeting – Mills, Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker, Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine, Utah Gov. Spencer Cox, Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz and New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham – outlined some of their local strategies and how states are working together to share best practices. The group included three Republican and three Democratic governors.

In Ohio, for instance, the National Guard has been setting up vaccination clinics in the lobbies of senior living centers and is planning summertime clinics at Boy’s Clubs and Girl’s Clubs and other youth organizations. In Minnesota, well-known community figures went door to door in communities with large meat-packing or processing facilities to increase rates among workers, and the state is setting up mobile, walk-up clinics in the parking lots of professional sporting events.

Baker said being able to make doses available at multiple locations for walk-up vaccination will be key to achieving higher rates among younger people.

“The more people see this happening among their friends and their family and co-workers, the more likely they are to sign up and say, ‘You know what, I’m willing to play,'” Baker said.

Cox, meanwhile, sought to differentiate Utah from other states – and particularly Maine – as a way to provide context about his state’s lower vaccination rate, which stood at 57 percent for one shot and 39 percent fully vaccinated, according to federal data. While Maine’s median age of 45 makes it the oldest state in the nation demographically speaking, Utah is the youngest with a median age of just 31.

“We are very excited for the announcement to allow younger people to be vaccinated because Utah has more of them than anyone else,” Cox said. “Mr. President, we are very good at having kids here.”

In addition to the new voucher program, Mills outlined Maine’s early focus on long-term care facilities, drive-thru clinics for disabled individuals, clinics held in island communities and the current focus on walk-in clinics with evening and weekend hours.

“The idea of engaging in and offering benefits, like everything from fishing licenses … and free tickets and vouchers, my guess is that is probably going to work,” Biden said.

“I think so,” Mills said. “We are offering a great spectrum of things and I think it will be an incentive to those who still may be hesitant.”

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