NORTHEAST HARBOR, ME – Through Facebook, phone calls, and word of mouth, Sharon Daley, RN, notified island communities of the Mission’s recent island COVID-19 booster vaccination clinics. As the Mission’s Director of Island Health, she focused efforts on residents age 50-plus as well as residents with suppressed immune systems.
Between handling the vaccine and navigating the course to Maine’s outer islands, the planning of such clinics requires excellent organization and perfect timing. Sharon explained the demanding schedule, Sharon detailed, “Monday, April 18, I drove to the MDI Hospital pharmacy, picked up the vaccine, then transferred it immediately to the Sunbeam‘s medical refrigerator.”
Because of the Sunbeam‘s size, there are places around Great Cranberry Isles it can’t navigate. “Tuesday morning, Island Outreach Director Douglas Cornman, Maureen Giffin, RN, and I caught the mail boat to Islesford,” Sharon said.
Sunbeam Capt. Mike Johnson and Engineer Storey King then used the skiff to transport Sharon, Maureen, and Douglas to Great Cranberry from Islesford.
“We did the vaccine clinic on Great Cranberry, and returned to the Sunbeam. We then traveled to Frenchboro to administer vaccines,” continued Sharon. From Frenchboro, the Mission clinic crew hosted two clinics on Isle au Haut. “From there,” said Sharon, “we traveled to Matinicus.”
Island hopping didn’t cease there. On Thursday, April 21, the Sunbeam and crew returned to Northeast Harbor and Sharon stayed on the boat. The next day she drove the vaccine two hours to Pen Bay Hospital’s medical refrigerator in Rockport. That was in preparation for a Monday, April 25 trip to Monhegan Island with Administrative Assistant Margaret Snell, and Nurse Practitioner Peggy Akers. Aiming to catch the mail boat at Port Clyde to go to Monhegan Island, Sharon and her team had just 30 minutes to travel there from Pen Bay Hospital. “They held the mail boat for us.”
In one final push, Sharon, Margaret, and Peggy returned to Northeast Harbor where they spent the night aboard the Sunbeam. The next morning, they caught the ferry for the final booster clinic on Swan’s Island.
For an initiative as vital and time-sensitive as Covid-19 boosters and vaccinations, island communities sprang into action to assist the Mission in providing the clinics. Starting in 2020, island communities and island health workers were concerned about the virus infecting and spreading across the islands. In 2021 alone, the Mission:
- Administered 928 Covid-19 vaccinations and boosters
- Conducted 28 visits in four months
- Visited seven islands including Great Cranberry, Islesford, Frenchboro, Monhegan, Matinicus, Swans’ Island, and Isle au Haut
- At least 10 media outlets covered the 2021 vaccination effort
In 2022, the second round of booster clinics are for individuals over 50 occurred on the same seven islands. Small geographically and in population, each island’s inhabitants depend on one another and form tight communities. “Because there are so many people on the islands in the summer,” Sharon explained. “People want to be as protected as they can be.”
To earn more about Sharon Daley’s work, visit the Island Health web page.