OLD ORCHARD BEACH, Maine — EDITOR'S NOTE: The video above aired May 22, 2021.
Maine's Mobile Vaccination Unit (MVU) will end its mission Friday in Old Orchard Beach.
The MVU administered more than 10,000 vaccinations across 12 communities in Maine since its launch in Oxford on April 12. It went on to visit Windham, Biddeford, Fryeburg, Turner, Waterville, Old Town, Milbridge, Calais, Madawaska, Portland, and Old Orchard Beach, largely administering the Johnson & Johnson vaccine to maximize efficiency.
The mobile unit was a partnership between the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the state of Maine, provided free COVID-19 vaccinations by appointment or on a drop-in basis to adults in Maine who wanted one. At the time of the MVU’s launch in April, Maine was the second state in New England to host a mobile vaccination unit.
The state of Maine and FEMA ultimately pursued a mobile vaccination unit in order to achieve two primary goals: to reach rural and under-served communities, and to complement large- and small-scale vaccination clinics already underway.
“As a result of the Mobile Vaccination Unit, thousands of people across Maine are now protected against COVID-19,” Gov. Janet Mills said in a release Friday. “We thank FEMA for their partnership in this groundbreaking effort as we continue to make vaccination convenient and accessible to get shots into the arms of as many Maine people as possible.”
The MVU focused its visits primarily on hard-to-reach and rural areas of the state determined by the Maine Department of Health and Human Services, the Maine Emergency Management Agency, and FEMA in part based on the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's Social Vulnerability Index, which utilizes 15 U.S. Census variables to help local officials identify communities that may need support before, during, or after disasters.
The MVU was run by staff provided by FEMA, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the U.S. Public Health Service, and the Peace Corps – marking the first time since Hurricane Katrina in 2005 that Peace Corps for FEMA have been utilized, according to the Mills administration – with support from State and local Emergency Medical Services, local health care providers and volunteers.
“Bringing vaccines to rural and underserved areas through the MVU has helped Maine to become a leader in the COVID-19 vaccination effort,” Maine DHHS Commissioner Jeanne Lambrew and Maine CDC Director Dr. Nirav Shah said in Friday's release. “We express our gratitude to FEMA for their partnership and to the thousands of Maine people who rolled up their sleeves at the MVU to do their part to protect themselves and their communities.”
COVID-19 vaccinations remain widely available at community vaccination centers and local pharmacies in Maine. To find a vaccination site near you, visit the state’s vaccination website or call the Community Vaccination Line at 1-888-445-4111.