Maine reported 302 new cases of COVID-19 on Wednesday and one additional death, as the state begins vaccinating a newly-eligible age group, 12- to 15-year-olds.
Since the pandemic began, Maine has recorded 64,748 cases of COVID-19 and 798 deaths.
The seven-day average of daily new cases stood at 270.0 on Wednesday, compared to 316.7 a week ago, and about 450 daily cases in mid-April. During the peak of the pandemic in mid-January, case counts soared above 600.
Major health care systems like MaineHealth, Northern Light Health and Central Maine Healthcare have all begun immunizing adolescents or scheduling their appointments. School-based COVID-19 vaccine clinics for students 12 and older are also imminent.
“We are super excited,” said Dr. Andrew Tenenbaum, an InterMed pediatrician who works out of the South Portland location that was offering shots on Tuesday. “There’s definitely a large number of parents who were eagerly awaiting this decision.”
Although everyone 12 and older is now eligible for a COVID-19 vaccine, immunizations have started to lag as demand has weakened. To try to boost demand, the Mills administration on Tuesday announced a number of incentives, such as free Sea Dogs tickets, L.L. Bean gift cards, free fishing licenses and other items if people get vaccinated.
“We are calling this ‘Your Shot to Get Outdoors’ – oh, it’s corny, I know,” said Gov. Janet Mills on Tuesday, during a media event with several governors hosted by the White House and attended by President 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 is tops in the country for the percentage of its population that is fully vaccinated, according to the Bloomberg vaccine tracker, and the top five states are all New England states. Following Maine are Connecticut, Vermont, Massachusetts and Rhode Island.
Other vaccine databases, which use different population and vaccination categories, report slightly different rankings, but all show that Maine and the other New England states are among the best at getting people vaccinated.
Through Wednesday, 658,758 people, or 49 percent of Maine’s 1.3 million population, have received at least the first dose of the vaccine. Also, 602,527 people have received their final dose, representing 44.9 percent of the population.
This story will be updated.