Maine DHHS Announces Winners of Kids COVID-19 Vaccination Video Contest 

The Maine Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS), in partnership with the Maine Department of Education (DOE), today announced the winners of the video competition for Maine children to encourage COVID-19 vaccination.

DHHS and DOE announced the contest on November 3, inviting Maine youth ages 5 to 17 to submit 30-second videos that they believed would encourage other children, along with their parents, to get a COVID-19 vaccine.

The winners are:

  • 1st place: Renée Morin (sophomore), Olie Saywell (sophomore), Hunter Roberts (junior, created original score), Ian Kruger (senior, camera operator); The New School (high school), Kennebunk
  • 2nd place: Spencer Michalski (8th grade), homeschooled, Columbia
  • 3rd place: Natalie Waters (6th grade), Lincoln Middle School, Portland

The winning entries can be viewed here:

“Congratulations to the winners of our Maine Kids COVID-19 Vaccination Video Contest, who displayed creativity, conviction, and courage in their submissions,” said DHHS Commissioner Jeanne Lambrew and Maine CDC Director Nirav D. Shah. “We’re grateful to every Maine child and teenager who submitted an entry – they are all public health champions. Thanks to people like them, Maine is quickly getting enough students vaccinated to begin returning to more normal ways of learning and having fun.”

“Getting back to normal and doing our part to end the pandemic inspired us to submit to the contest,” said the first-place team from The New School. “By spreading awareness and empowering fellow young people with facts about vaccination, helping younger Mainers to not be afraid, and using skills we learned in video production, we hoped to contribute to positive public health messaging.”

“My plunge into the frigid water was worth the sacrifice for the greater good,” added Olie Saywel.

The Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is promoting the winning videos on social media.

Additionally, first-place winner The New School will receive $50,000; second -place winner Spencer Michalski selected Downeast Audubon as the nonprofit to receive the $25,000 second-place prize to fund summer camp scholarships; and third-place winner Lincoln Middle School will receive $10,000.

Schools can use the winnings to supplement school meals with healthy treats; purchase playground, classroom, gym, sports, or music equipment; enhance a special school activity; or support a school field trip for all students.

Over 50 submissions were reviewed, without identifying information, by a committee comprised of DHHS, CDC and DOE staff members. The selection criteria included originality and clarity of the message, consistency with public health information on youth vaccination, and potential to reach unvaccinated groups, among others.

Children could produce the video submissions on their own or as part of a school activity. Participation was limited to Maine residents.

The prize winnings are supported by the Federally funded Coronavirus Relief Fund at Maine DHHS, which was the source of funds for previous COVID-19 vaccine incentive programs in Maine.

The video competition is part of Maine DHHS and Maine CDC’s broader plan to support vaccination of children ages 5 to 11. Nearly 29% of Maine children ages 5 to 11 have received at least a first dose of vaccine, nearly double the national average of 14.7 percent and ranking Maine third in the nation, according to the U.S. CDC.

The Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine is available for children 5 to 11 years old in a two-dose series, and is administered in a lower dose than the vaccine for adolescents and adults.

COVID-19 vaccines are available at no charge at sites across the state. For information on getting a vaccine, please visit Maine.gov/covid19/vaccines or call the Community Vaccination Line at 1-888-445-4111.