Avita of Brunswick resident, Connie, receives her first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine at a clinic held at the campus this week. Contributed photo

BRUNSWICK — Mid Coast Hospital will open a public vaccination clinic at Brunswick Landing — site of the former Brunswick Naval Air Station — Monday. The hospital will administer COVID-19 vaccinations to those 70 and older by appointment only.

Staffed by doctors, pharmacists and other support staff, the clinic plans to provide more than 800 vaccines a day six days a week, reaching about 75,000 people by the end of July, Mid Coast-Parkview Health President  Lois Skillings told the Brunswick Town Council Tuesday.

“This is our D-day moment,” Skillings added. “The ability to turn the tide in this war is about having mass vaccination ability of our public.”

Because the vaccines require two shots, “the complexity of this is that we need to not just schedule people for their first dose but also schedule them for their second dose,” Skillings said.

Martin’s Point Healthcare offices in Brunswick are also collaborating on the effort. The Brunswick Police Department is reaching out to other agencies for help directing traffic during the clinic.

As of Wednesday, the Maine CDC had reported 34,963 COVID-19 cases and 530 deaths from the virus statewide.

There have been 10,128 COVID-19 cases and 133 deaths reported in Cumberland County encompassing Brunswick and Harpswell, which have had 273 and 34 COVID-19 cases reported respectively as of Jan. 10. Sagadahoc County has had 653 COVID-19 cases and 1 death. Bath and Topsham have each had 152 COVID-19 cases reported as of Jan. 10.

“Our goal is to work together to ensure that everyone in our region has access to the COVID-19 vaccine,” Skillings said. “This large-scale central approach will allow us to reach more people with the ability to give 10,000 first vaccines and 10,000 second vaccines each month, depending on vaccine availability.”

Vaccination will be accessible to all community members who meet the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention criteria for eligibility, according to the release. Vaccination is offered by appointment only to prevent long lines and added risk of spreading COVID-19.

Some recreation programming will be postponed or relocated while the clinic remains at the town’s recreation center.

The state is in the middle of Phase 1A of the vaccination program, which includes immunizing health care workers, paramedics, and staff and residents of nursing homes, the Portland Press Herald reported Monday.

Parts of Phase 1B will start before Phase 1A is finished and will include seniors 70 and older, younger adults with high-risk health conditions and front-line essential workers such as teachers, postal workers and grocery store clerks. Seniors 70 and older are being prioritized.

Christopher Bowe, MD, chief medical officer at Mid Coast–Parkview, said a vaccine is considered worth administering if it has 60% effectiveness. The available Pfizer and Moderna vaccines show up to 95% efficacy, “so these vaccines have been very, very effective and that is exciting for us.”

There are more vaccines in different steps of the approval vaccine, including a vaccine that would require only one dose, which Bowe said could be a gamechanger for how healthcare providers administer the vaccine.

Mid Coast Hospital is using a multi-faceted approach to schedule eligible individuals for vaccination. Patients who meet the Maine CDC criteria will begin to receive personal invitations via email and phone over the next few weeks. Appointments will be scheduled in phases as vaccine become available.

Skilling requested people not call their primary care providers to ask about vaccines.

“We are currently experiencing an influx of phone calls to our Medical Group practices, which is interfering with our typical patient process for those in need of acute care,” said Bowe, noting that calling the practices won’t speed up appointments.

People can visit www.midcoasthealth.com/vaccine or call (877) 780-7545 to use MaineHealth’s automated COVID-19 Vaccine Assistant, which helps determine eligibility and connects with a MaineHealth vaccine scheduling team. The MaineHealth COVID-19 Vaccine Assistant continues to evolve to accommodate a high volume.

“We continue to evolve our scheduling process with new resources as they come online,” said Bowe.

Even as the vaccine becomes available, Mid Coast Hospital encourages everyone, including those who have been vaccinated, to continue safety measures that reduce the spread of COVID-19: Wear a mask in public, practice social distancing, avoid unnecessary travel, keep surfaces clean, and practice good hand hygiene.

The clinic will be set up at the Brunswick Parks and Recreation Center at Brunswick Landing in Cook’s Corner. The center is located at 220 Neptune Drive.

Skillings said the site was chosen as a central and spacious location to vaccinate residents Brunswick, Bath, Topsham and Harpswell and the surrounding area as quickly and safely as possible.

This story will be updated.

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