The state mobile vaccination unit is set up in April in the parking lot of the Oxford Casino on Route 26 in Oxford. Andree Kehn/Sun Journal Buy this Photo

As Maine shifts its vaccination strategy away from high-volume vaccination sites to smaller, targeted clinics, a number of communities in central and western Maine still have a high number of unvaccinated residents, according to the latest town-by-town vaccination data released earlier this week.

In the two weeks since the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention published the initial ZIP code-level dashboard on vaccination rates, the number of vaccinated residents in Androscoggin, Franklin and Oxford couties has improved, but there are still many communities struggling to vaccinate either 60% of its residents or lower the number of unvaccinated individuals to below 2,000.

The dashboard categorizes each ZIP code in one of four ways: red, yellow, blue or green. Red and yellow designations mean there are more than 2,000 unvaccinated individuals there. Red means that less than 60% of all residents have been vaccinated and yellow means that at least 60% of residents are vaccinated.

Blue and green designations mean there are low numbers of unvaccinated individuals, or less than 2,000. Blue means that less than 60% of residents are vaccinated and green means more than 60% of residents are vaccinated.

There are far fewer “red” ZIP codes in Androscoggin, Franklin and Oxford counties as of the June 1 update to the data, but a number of “yellow” designations remain, meaning there are more than 2,000 residents still left to reach.

The three communities that remain in the red also do not currently have an open public vaccination site. Those towns are: Livermore Falls and Sabattus in Androscoggin County and Wilton in Franklin County. Each town has between 2,000 and 5,000 residents who are unvaccinated.

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The Maine Department of Health and Human Services announced this week that the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s mobile vaccination unit is skipping its previously planned stops in Rangeley and Rumford to go Portland and Old Orchard Beach. That leaves just seven public vaccination sites operating in Franklin County and 10 in Oxford County.

Five of Franklin County’s sites are in Farmington. The remaining two are in Jay. There are three patients-only sites in the county, in Kingfield, Rangeley and Strong.

In Oxford County, vaccination sites are more spread out but still limited. Most of the northwestern part of the county is served by three clinics in Rumford.

Maine CDC Director Dr. Nirav Shah said in a news briefing Wednesday that the change to the FEMA mobile vaccination unit’s schedule was done in order to “maximize the resources that we have.”

Following its stop in Madawaska in Aroostook County, the 500-shot capacity mobile unit will be at Rising Tide Brewery on Fox Street in Portland from June 10-13. It wraps up its tour of first-dose administrations in Old Orchard Beach from June 15-18.

Shah said Wednesday that the state is still deciding whether to add stops for its other mobile vaccination unit, run in partnership with Falmouth-based Promerica Health. Lewiston city officials announced Thursday that the mobile unit will be returning to Oak Street municipal parking area on June 4 and June 11.

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Providers there will administer scheduled second-dose Moderna shots and will also accept walk-ins for newly vaccinated individuals. Those receiving their first shots will be given an option to schedule their second dose at Hannaford, Shaw’s, CVS and other alternative sites. It is not clear if the clinic is not returning for those appointments.

Meanwhile, state health officials Thursday reported 106 new cases of COVID-19, including six in Androscoggin County, four in Franklin County and nine in Oxford County. The number of new cases is nearly triple the number of new cases Tuesday, which may be a function of fewer tests administered and processed over the holiday weekend.

Officials also reported 10 additional deaths, seven of which were the result of a review of death records. Those deaths occurred between May 2 and May 23. The CDC regularly reviews death records to confirm COVID-19 as the cause of death where it was previously reported as suspicious.

Five were men and five were women. Four were residents of Androscoggin County and there was one individual each from Aroostook, Cumberland, Kennebec, Oxford, Penobscot and Somerset counties.

Two of the deaths were patients at Lewiston’s Central Maine Medical Center, according to data from the hospital.

Three of the individuals were in their 60s, two were in their 70s and four were 80 years or older. One of the individuals was younger than 20 years old, the first death from COVID-19 in that age group recorded in Maine.

A spokesperson for the Maine CDC told the Portland Press Herald that this individual had “other possible medical factors” that contributed to their death.

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