READFIELD — A coronavirus vaccine clinic is being offered Monday by Regional School Unit 38 for students between the ages of 12 and 18.

Anya Davidson, a nurse at Maranacook Community High School, had been helping out at the Augusta coronavirus vaccine clinic and wanted to host a clinic for staff members.

At the time it wasn’t possible, but then, once the age to receive the vaccine went down, she thought they could have one for the students. Through word of mouth from one of her nursing friends at another school, she was able to set up the clinic for Maranacook.

The Center for Disease Control gave approval this week for children ages 12-15 to receive the vaccine; ages 16 and older were approved several weeks ago. Children under the age of 18 are only approved to receive the Pfizer vaccine.

“We wanted to do it so they could get both doses before the summer,” she said.

Students who receive the vaccine on Monday will receive the second Pfizer dose right before summer recess. Staff members who have not received the vaccine will also be able to do so at the clinic.

As of now, the medical professionals at Maranacook do not know the number of students who will receive the vaccine — it depends on how many have signed up through Northern Light Health, who will then ship the correct number of vaccinations to the clinic. As of 4 p.m. Friday, about 120 students had signed up.

Ahead of the clinic, RSU 38 hosted a question-and-answer session last Monday to answer questions parents may have about the vaccine. The overwhelming response to the vaccine was positive, according to Sarah Morrill, Maranacook’s health center director, but she noted some parents are hesitant to vaccinate their children based on the readiness of the vaccination.

“We saw some people were more hesitant in the larger community, as parents want all of the information to approach what’s happening,” said Morrill. “We want to give them the access to the information as needed. At the health center, we are excited about the vaccine and want to be respectful of their personal decision while giving them everything they need to make an informed decision.”

Davidson said she is unsure if students getting vaccinated will change any guidelines within the school regarding students attending in-person five days a week. Maranacook schools are currently in a hybrid model and have faced many positive COVID-19 cases since the start of the school year — the most recent case being May 12 at Readfield Elementary.

One parent attending the question-and-answer session asked if students in public schools would have to have the vaccination. Sydney Sewall, RSU 38’s pediatrician on staff, did not think so, not for a couple of years at least.

Regarding the reopening of schools, he said the data regarding the Pfizer antibodies’ effectiveness in children against the coronavirus looks better than it does in young adults.

“There were no cases of transmission,” Sewall said. “If you get it (COVID), you probably aren’t contagious.”

He acknowledged the vaccine process was fast, but said the vaccinations are more effective than originally thought a year ago. He pointed out that Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the U.S. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and the chief medical advisor to the president, initially believed the vaccine would be at least 50% effective; it has currently shown a 90%-plus effectiveness rate.

The U.S. tested the vaccine with a pool of about 30,000 people who were asked to wait two months before reporting their results, Sewall said.

“One good argument is it hasn’t been around too long,” he said. “If you choose not to vaccinate, you’ll probably be protected by the others who chose to vaccinate, but not to the full extent — you’ll probably still get COVID at some point. … The risk of getting the infection is higher than the risks of the vaccine.”

Sewall said children make up less than 1% of hospitalization cases for the coronavirus, but they are still prone to the lasting effects of COVID-19, such as losing smell, brain fog and fatigue.

Those who get the vaccine are not required to quarantine after being in close contact to a COVID-19 case — Davidson said she has seen it as a “motivating factor” to parents for getting their child vaccinated.

“There (is) not only a  less chance of getting it and putting the school into a remote model, (but) they don’t have to quarantine,” she said. “Kids have missed out on a lot of things, and they and parents are frustrated and want to get back to normal.”

The vaccination clinic is set to run from 8:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. Monday, with a second clinic on June 7 for students to get their second dose of the vaccine.

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