WATERVILLE — State health officials are utilizing milkshakes as the latest incentive in the effort to get more people vaccinated against COVID-19, as cases continue to surge and hospitalizations set record highs.

From 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday, McDonald’s at 336 Main St. in Waterville is set to host a free COVID-19 vaccination clinic, coordinated with the restaurant’s owner, Mike Ortins, and the Maine Center for Disease Control & Prevention.

Area residents seeking a first or second dose of a vaccine or a booster can choose between the two-dose inoculation from Pfizer or Moderna or the single dose from Johnson & Johnson.

In exchange, those who receive a vaccination Tuesday will be offered a free milkshake from McDonald’s.

“We meet people where they are,”  Dr. Nirav Shah of the Maine CDC tweeted Monday, in response to news of the McDonald’s clinic.

Meantime, local pediatricians have begun notifying families that clinics would be available this week for children ages 5 to 11, following the rollout earlier this month of vaccination clinics at schools for younger children.


The announcement Monday of the clinic planned for McDonald’s came as state health officials reported a pandemic record of COVID-19 hospitalizations, with 296 statewide, up from 287 on Sunday.

Of the 296 hospitalized Monday with COVID-19, 87 were in intensive care and 36 were on a ventilator. The latest surge in hospitalizations in Maine is primarily among those who are unvaccinated, making up nearly two-third of all hospitalized patients, according to state public health officials.

Updated case counts are expected Tuesday, after 848 new cases of COVID-19 and three deaths were reported Saturday.

Earlier this month, federal regulators approved vaccines for those ages 5 to 11, and booster eligibility standards were expanded last week to everyone 18 or older.

In Kennebec County, health officials report about 62.5% of the population has been fully vaccinated, which stands in contrast with neighboring Somerset County, where 56% of residents are vaccinated.

Statewide, 68% of the population is fully vaccinated against COVID-19, according to the Maine CDC.

In Somerset County, a vaccination clinic is scheduled for 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. Tuesday at the gymnasium at Quimby Elementary School at 263 Main St. in Bingham. The first hour is to be reserved for children to receive their first dose of the Pfizer vaccine. The clinic will be open to community members who would like to receive a Moderna or J&J booster shot.

The Maine CDC’s website also tracks COVID-19 vaccine locations statewide, including many Hannaford, Walgreens, CVS and Walmart pharmacies.

“Most of the confirmed clinics are at pharmacies and health care facilities, although the Augusta Fire Department is apparently working to arrange a pediatric vaccination clinic soon,” said Robert Long, spokesperson for Maine CDC.

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