AUGUSTA — While mass vaccination sites in other parts of Maine are scheduled to shut down this month, the Augusta vaccination site at the Augusta Civic Center is expected to remain open through June for scheduled and walk-in appointments.
On Thursday Alex Syndor, MaineGeneral Health’s chief strategy officer, said while COVID-19 vaccines will continue to be administered at the Civic Center through next month, hospital officials are planning to shift to administering vaccinations in other locations, such primary care and home health care settings.
At the same time, patients admitted at MaineGeneral Medical Center are receiving vaccines, and they will be made available to people being treated in the Emergency Room.
This week it was announced that the vaccination site at Scarborough Downs would close on Thursday and the site at Bangor’s Cross Insurance Center would close May 27, as health care officials shift their focus to smaller-scale settings like pharmacies, pop-up clinics and worksite clinics for some of the region’s larger employers.
These changes come as nearly half of the state’s 1.3 million residents have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19 and more than half have received the first of two doses.
“We’ve seen the same kind of decline in demand for the vaccine that other providers have seen, but we still have a sufficient flow of patients coming through to keep it open,” Syndor said.
The clinic at the Civic Center launched February 17. Since then more than 41,000 doses of vaccine have been give there, with demand peaking in the third week of March.
“We were giving around 6,000 doses that week for a couple of weeks,” Syndor said, noting that by mid-April, 3,000 doses a week were being administered.
As demand has shifted, the clinic has been able to adapt, with longer hours and more space with greater demand, and shorter hours and fewer days as demand drops off.
“The important thing is being available when people aren’t working and on weekends,” Syndor said.
This week, of the 1,700 doses, about 350 will be the first of two shots, he said, and they’ll have to return for their second shots in three or four weeks.
The clinic is now offering both Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines, with walk-ins being given Moderna for now.
Nicole McSweeney, chief marketing officer for MaineGeneral, said when the U.S. Food and Drug Administration opened up eligibility earlier this month for the Pfizer vaccine to be administered to people ages 12 and up, officials knew there would be a push in wanting to get that one, so it wasn’t available for the walk-in clinics.
Syndor said it’s important for people who have not yet been inoculated to talk to their trusted healthcare providers about any questions or concerns they might have.
“We’re in that stage where people who are on the fence about whether or not they should get the vaccine are at that point of decision making,” he said. “They should talk to someone and get the answers they need.”