In this Dec. 21, 2021, file photo, Pam Hetherly fills a syringe with COVID-19 vaccine at a clinic at the Augusta Armory in Augusta. Credit: Robert F. Bukaty / AP

Death rates in Maine from COVID-19 are three times higher in the state’s least-vaccinated counties compared with counties that are heavily vaccinated.

The Portland Press Herald/Maine Sunday Telegram analysis compared highly vaccinated coastal counties Cumberland, Lincoln and Sagadahoc to three counties that are not, Somerset, Piscataquis and Franklin counties.

The widest difference was 2.23 COVID-19 deaths per 10,000 population in Sagadahoc County, compared with 8.94 deaths per 10,000 population in Franklin County, the newspaper reported.

The analysis used death rates for the period when vaccination was widely available and when most population groups had a significant amount of time to get the vaccine, June 1 through Dec. 28.

“There’s no doubt in the scientific community that these vaccines have blunted the pandemic in really meaningful ways,” said Dr. Laura Blaisdell, a South Portland pediatrician and infectious disease expert. “The science and the data doesn’t lie.”

More than 1,500 Maine residents have died during the pandemic. Maine’s data don’t indicate how many of those who died were vaccinated or unvaccinated.