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With fluid vaccine plan, Maine child care providers iterate their essential status

"We've been essential since day one," Stacie Archibald, owner of Your Little Artist Preschool in South Portland said.

SOUTH PORTLAND, Maine — As vaccine distributions continue in Maine, a licensed family child care provider in South Portland is happy she and others like her are currently listed in phase 1b. But the state's vaccination plan and timeline are fluid, and some essential workers are left wondering when they'll be vaccinated.

"We've been essential since day one," Stacie Archibald, owner of Your Little Artist Preschool in South Portland said.

Archibald is on the board of the Family Child Care Association of Maine. She said she closed from March until June.

"Some of my children live with grandparents or have to use grandparents as alternative care if I'm not available, so it's crucial that child care providers are vaccinated," Archibald said. 

She is now open five days a week.

"For the majority, we've been open more than the Department of Education schools, and we are also taking the children who are displaced by the DOE schedule. Child care providers have stepped up and are enrolling those children on a full-time schedule so parents can work," she said.

The U.S. CDC advisory committee has recommended frontline essential workers—including teachers and daycare workers—be vaccinated in phase 1b. Under Maine's plan, that could happen between February and April. The state said it will review the list and make determinations as the phase approaches.

Dr. James Jarvis of Northern Light Health said it's important students are learning in classrooms.

"It's important to us and even just as an employer, we found that when schools close, parents have to stay home and take care of their children and therefore they are not available at work and in healthcare, and we are so critically short of staff right now," Jarvis said.

Archibald said she does have questions about how she and other daycare workers will be notified of when and where to get vaccinated.

A spokesperson for the Department of Health and Human Services said, "Under Maine’s vaccination plan, Phase 1b continues to include frontline workers."

"Identifying these workers and determining how they will be vaccinated will occur as more information on the vaccine supply in the Biden Administration emerges," they continued. "Maine will provide more information on how and when vaccination is available to this group as this work progresses."

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