LEWISTON — Robert Clifford and his wife, Tookie, got the call this week.

Would they like a COVID-19 vaccination?

“Wild horses couldn’t have kept me away,” Robert, an active retired judge who served on the Maine Supreme Judicial Court, said.

At 11:25 a.m. Thursday, the couple — he’s 83, she’s 85 — were among the first members of the general public to get the vaccine at St. Mary’s Regional Medical Center in Lewiston.

“It went great,” he said. “We were happy, so happy, to get the call.”

St. Mary’s received 975 doses of the Pfizer vaccine this week. Of those, 120 will go to people at the B Street Health Center in downtown Lewiston.

The rest of the doses were split between two vaccination clinics at the hospital, one Thursday and one Friday, both for people 80 and older.

About 400 people got the shots Thursday.

Robert Mathieu, 84, and his wife Cecile, 82, were also among the hundreds Thursday. Like Clifford, they are St. Mary’s patients. And like him, they got the call about an opening this week.

The couple already had two other possibilities on the horizon — appointments in Brunswick and with their pharmacy. But they were weeks away and St. Mary’s offered the shot now.

When the vaccine first came out, the Mathieus weren’t sure they wanted it.

“What if there’s a reaction and all that?” he said. “Then I says, you know what, we’re in that high, high risk group. Let’s take it. What’s it going to do?”

On Thursday, Mathieu was glad they’d changed their minds.

“It went excellent. It really did,” he said.

Clifford and Mathieu lauded the hospital’s handling of its first COVID-19 vaccination clinic for Mainers 80 and older.

“There was plenty of staff,” Mathieu said. “There was somebody every time you turned a corner —  ‘Can I help you?’ It was a very good experience.”

St. Mary’s will have its next clinic Friday. All slots have been filled. The hospital will hold additional clinics next week if it gets vaccines, as it has been told it will.

“As long as we have vaccines, we will have clinics,” St. Mary’s spokesman Stephen Costello said.

Vaccinations are by appointment only. Hospital staff are reaching out to those people who qualify and who are already St. Mary’s patients. The general public can fill out a form on the hospital’s website to seek an appointment. Once the appointments are filled, the form is removed until new slots are available.

St. Mary’s isn’t alone in its vaccination clinics. Central Maine Healthcare will give out 450 doses to people 70 and older on Feb. 6 and 278 doses at its Central Maine Medical Center in Lewiston on Feb. 13. All slots are full.

CMHC has not yet determined whether it will open appointments at its Bridgton and Rumford hospitals on Feb 13.

St. Mary’s and Central Maine Healthcare have urged people to frequently check the hospitals’ websites for information about future clinics.

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