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Survey finds 97% of Maine EMS workers vaccinated as mandate deadline looms

The state will begin enforcing its vaccine mandate for health care workers on Oct. 29. Workers who don’t comply risk losing their jobs.

AUGUSTA, Maine — EDITOR'S NOTE: The video above is from Oct. 13, 2021.

Nearly 97% of Maine's emergency medical service workers have been vaccinated against COVID-19, according to a statewide survey conducted by the Maine Department of Public Safety's Maine Emergency Medical Services last week.

The department announced in a release Wednesday that 96.9% of EMS workers in Maine are now vaccinated.

The state will begin enforcing its vaccine mandate for health care workers on Oct. 29. Workers who don't comply risk losing their jobs.

According to the Maine Department of Public Safety, the Maine EMS Board of Directors, which independently governs Maine EMS services, voted to adopt the requirement, exempting dispatchers and providing additional time until Oct. 15 for other employees to get vaccinated. The Maine Department of Health and Human Services aligned its enforcement and definitions with the EMS Board.

"We have seen significant improvements in the vaccination rates in our hospitals, long-term care facilities, and just today the Department of Public Safety reported that 97 percent of the EMS workers subject to its rule are fully vaccinated," Maine DHHS Commissioner Jeanne Lambrew said Wednesday during the state's COVID-19 and vaccine briefing. "So we do know that vaccine requirements do work in these health care settings where, as a reminder, they're high-risk settings."

In addition to being approved by the Maine EMS Board, the International Association of Firefighters and the Professional Firefighters of Maine, which represent EMS personnel, have encouraged EMS personnel to follow the requirement.

"Maine's EMS personnel are some of the best in the world. They are professional, courteous, and will do everything in their power to provide the safest and most effective care possible," Sam Hurley, director of Maine EMS, said in Wednesday's release. "These strong vaccination rates further demonstrate this fact and underscore that Maine EMS personnel are committed to protecting the health and safety of those they are charged with caring for."

The U.S. Supreme Court declined to stop mandating COVID-19 vaccines for Maine health workers Tuesday.

Justice Stephen Breyer rejected the emergency appeal but left the door open to try again as the clock ticks on Maine's mandate.