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Maine Seacoast Mission bringing vaccination to the islands

The Sunbeam V leaving Northeast Harbor Thursday morning, on its way to deliver the COVID...
The Sunbeam V leaving Northeast Harbor Thursday morning, on its way to deliver the COVID vaccine to remote island communities.(Bryan Sidelinger)
Published: Feb. 26, 2021 at 2:58 PM EST
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NORTHEAST HARBOR, Maine (WABI) - Maine Seacoast Mission is now in the COVID-19 vaccination business.

Those aboard the Sunbeam spent yesterday on Swans Island, administering 61 doses. That’s just the beginning of their work for those who live on Maine’s islands. By the time they’re finished, Maine Seacoast Mission will have brought the COVID vaccine to almost 180 people on some of Maine’s most remote islands.

“People have been so happy to get their vaccinations,” said Sharon Daley, an RN and Director of Island Health for Maine Seacoast Mission. “Getting off of some of these islands is very difficult, especially for the elderly, so it feels really good to be able to do this.”

To make the trip possible, Maine Seacoast Mission worked with the Maine CDC to make an exception and allow for vaccinations of everyone over the age of 18.

“For us to go to some of the smaller islands and do the 70 and above, y’know, there’s only maybe three people,” Daley said. “So they expanded that age group for us so that we could go and just sort of vaccinate everybody.”

They’ve got some long hours ahead aboard the Sunbeam, according to Sunbeam Chaplin & Director of Island Outreach, Douglas Cornman.

“We’ll be going to Great Cranberry Island first, doing a clinic there. Then we’ll go to Islesford, we will head over to Frenchboro, we’ll head over to Isle au Haut and doing our fourth clinic on Saturday morning.”

Maine Seacoast Mission has been bringing supplies to Maine’s islands for more than a hundred years. Every trip the mission makes is important to the folks who live on those islands, but maybe none more important than the trips being made right now.

“This is really a historic moment for us,” said Maine Seacoast Mission President John Zavodny. “Y’know, global pandemics only come around once every hundred years.”

“This trip is different,” Cornman added. “They feel perhaps there is an end in sight in a remote community where access to healthcare is so hard.”

“People say when they see the Sunbeam in the harbor that it’s a sign of hope,” Daley said. “And that’s kind of what we’re all about.”

For more information on Maine Seacoast Mission, visit www.seacoastmission.org.

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