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Island communities get vaccine via lobster boat

Captain Richard Howland of the Fishing Vessel Victoria, on his way to Little Cranberry Island.
Captain Richard Howland of the Fishing Vessel Victoria, on his way to Little Cranberry Island.(Bryan Sidelinger)
Published: Apr. 16, 2021 at 6:24 PM EDT
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ISLESFORD, Maine (WABI) - Nurses from Maine Seacoast Mission took a ferry out to the Cranberry Islands Friday to administer the second round of vaccine to residents there.

For Maine’s island residents, getting vaccinated isn’t as simple as driving to a vaccination site and getting in line. It takes a complete community effort, and vaccine administrators needed some extra help to move from island to island.

Enter Captain Richard Howland, of the Fishing Vessel Victoria. Normally he’s hauling lobsters on his boat. Friday, it was the vaccine.

“They needed a big, safe, comfortable boat. It’s blowing about forty easterly, so… I got a big boat.”

“The Lobsterman are critical for our work,” said Maine Seacoast Mission Director of Island Outreach Douglas Cornman. “Because if a mail boat isn’t running, or we’re not able to get the Sunbeam off this doc, they’ll come. They’ll help us out.

“Lets get everyone else vaccinated,” Howland said. “And let’s have a good summer.”

It’s simply the way things get done in these communities, and it’s been that way since long before the pandemic. These islands depend on lobstermen and women for far more than keeping the economy going.

“That’s the life blood of the island, y’know? The fishing fleets, guys that run the lobster boats, and the people that support them. In the winter time, besides the ferry that runs a few times a day, lobster boats are the only boats that are in the water. So if you got to get off the island for a medical emergency or whatever it is, then you’re getting on a lobster boat.”

Or if you need to get on the island to administer a vaccine in the middle of a pandemic, when it’s blowing about forty easterly.

“I’m happy I did it,” said Howland. “And I hope someday that someone would do it for me when I’m not capable of doing it.”

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