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Vaccination clinics to open on 7 Maine islands this week

The Mission island vaccine clinics are expected to continue for months and held in various community buildings on the islands.

Maine Seacoast Mission is establishing COVID-19 vaccination clinics on the following Maine islands beginning this week: Swans, Great Cranberry, Islesford, Matinicus, Frenchboro, Monhegan, and Isle au Haut.  

The Mission, which is based on Mount Desert Island, said it is working in partnership with island residents, the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention (Maine CDC), county officials, Mount Desert Island Hospital, and Pen Bay Medical Center.

Medical and support staff, led by Mission Island Health Services Director Sharon Daley, will travel primarily aboard the Mission’s 74-foot boat, named Sunbeam. 

Daley, Island Outreach Director Douglas Cornman, and Sunbeam Captain Michael Johnson are scheduling vaccination trips, keeping in mind that the Moderna vaccine requires a second dose approximately 28 days after the first.

“Everything I'm doing seems to be Covid related, and it's been a real rollercoaster ride for the last week,” Daley said. “Thanks to the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention, and MDI Hospital, I have an initial 150 vaccines to take out.

“Island Outreach Director Douglas Cornman has been working seven days and nights a week registering people,” Daley continued. “We have to have an accurate count for each island. And we have to figure out rotation of the islands so we're not ending up short of vaccines or with vaccines left over."

The Mission island vaccine clinics are expected to continue for months and be held in various community buildings on the islands.

“I have a couple of great nurses who are going with me. I can't wait to go on the boat and start doing this,” Daley added.

The first Sunbeam trip after the boat’s recent refit was to conduct flu clinics under COVID-19 restrictions. The Sunbeam is equipped with health facilities including a medical grade refrigerator.

"We have been anticipating this opportunity to serve since the first vaccine was announced last fall. In many ways, the Mission has been preparing for this moment for over a century,” Mission President John Zavodny said.

Since 1905, the Maine Seacoast Mission has supported communities in some of Maine’s most isolated villages and islands. The Mission aims to connect people to each other, to education, to food, and to wellness.