AUBURN — Richmond High School student Chevelle Hill, 17, got her COVID-19 shot and a bit of fanfare Wednesday.
She got the 30,000th shot given at Central Maine Healthcare’s Auburn Mall clinic.
The milestone was announced on the mall’s loudspeaker, followed by applause.
There was even cake.
Hill was a bit taken back when she was told her shot was number 30,000, a milestone worth celebrating.
“I wasn’t expecting this at all,” she said. “I was just expecting to come in and get my shot.”
Her mother, Dawn Richardson of Sanford, brought her daughter to get vaccinated. “I feel it’s safer for her to have the shot. I’m vaccinated. I want her vaccinated.”
At Richmond High, about half of the students are getting vaccinated, Hill said.
In the two months since the clinic opened March 17, “it has been tremendous,” nurse Jen Jordan, system director Medical Specialties for Central Maine Healthcare, said.
“We’ve done 30,000 doses,” she said shortly before noon. “As a system we’ve done 59,474, that includes what we’ve done at the hospital before we transitioned over here,” as well as vaccines administered in the Rumford and Bridgton hospitals.
When the state announced last week that youth ages 12-15 were eligible, the mall clinic created vaccine rooms with curtains, much like dressing rooms, to make the experience more comfortable.
As the demand for shots has been replaced with vaccine hesitancy, the ease of walk-in shots is making a difference.
Local doctors and nurses are talking to patients about getting vaccinated, answering questions and providing counseling.
“We are starting to hear from providers that now that we have vaccine and appointment availability, it’s much easier to have that conversation,” Jordan said. “Patients are leaving their doctor’s offices and coming straight here.”
On Tuesday, the Auburn Mall clinic provided shots to 82 walk-ins, a good number for a Tuesday, she said. “Over the weekend we did nearly 100 (walk-ins) on both days.”
What they’re hearing from people is that the ease of not having to find or make an appointment is helping, Jordan said.
Even though the volume of shots is going down nationwide, statewide and at the Auburn Mall, the demand is still there, Jordan said. “Yesterday (Tuesday) we did 520.” Before noon on Wednesday 111 vaccinations had been given.
From May 10-15, a total of 2,238 shots were given at the mall: 917 first doses and 1,321 second doses. People are coming from all over Maine, she said.
The return rate for people coming back to get their second Pfizer shot is “tremendous,” Jordan said. Out of 30,000 vaccines, the mall has only had 146 not show up for their second shot.
Central Maine Healthcare follows up with those who have had their first shot, reminding people of the second dose through emails and phone calls, Jordan said.
The Auburn Mall clinic is open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays.
Walk-ins are available for people 16 and older.
Appointments are needed for youths ages 12-15; they must be accompanied by a parent or legal guardian. For more information go to https://www.cmhc.org/get-covid-vaccine/.