Corey Oakes, left, and John Casey push a cart loaded with vaccine supplies Sunday through the lobby of Central Maine Medical Center in Lewiston. Movers took equipment and other items from the hospital to a staging area at the Auburn Mall. Central Maine Healthcare, in collaboration with the state, Auburn, Lewiston and other community partners, will open the mass vaccination site there Wednesday. Andree Kehn/Sun Journal Buy this Photo

AUBURN — The region’s first mass vaccination site to fight COVID-19 will open Wednesday at the Auburn Mall, with officials expecting to inoculate 300 people the first day.

Appointments for Wednesday, Friday and Saturday opened last week and quickly filled, said Amy Lee, vice president and chief operating officer of Central Maine Medical Group within Central Maine Healthcare.

No appointments were available as of Monday. More will open up “as soon as we find out how much (vaccine) we’re getting,” Lee said.

At this time, vaccines will only be given to members of the general public age 60 or older and to educators, school staff and child care workers. No walk-ins will be accepted. Appointments can be made through Central Maine Healthcare’s webpage,, or by calling 207-520-2917.

“The best part of doing a clinic is people are so excited to get this done,” Lee said. After a year of so many family gatherings, activities and businesses not happening because of the pandemic, “it’s very uplifting to experience the joy and happiness people are feeling,” she said. “It’s a happy place.”

This week the clinic will operate three days, next week it will expand to four days: Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday.


The mall stores will remain open; partitions will separate the clinic from the normal mall business.

Once the clinic ramps up, the goal is to vaccinate 1,000 people a day. Lee stressed that CMH’s other hospitals offering vaccines in Rumford and Bridgton will continue.

On Sunday, Central Maine Medical Center staff moved truckloads of medical equipment to the mall. The clinic will be staffed with between 50 to 60 health providers and volunteers.

Among the organizations and individuals involving in establishing the clinic was George Schott, owner of the Auburn Mall, who offered use of the mall.

“He’s been absolutely wonderful to work with,” Lee said of Schott. “The mall’s been very accommodating.”

The mall clinic is expected to continue for months. Schott said he’s offering the space “because it’s the right thing to do. We’ve got to get this economy going again. The sooner we can get shots in arms, the better.”


As Lewiston-Auburn city leaders, St. Mary’s Regional Health Care and CMH officials were planning the clinic, a doctor asked one of Schott’s employees if his boss would be interested in hosting a clinic. “My employee said, ‘Here’s his number.’”

The doctor called and Schott said yes. “I hope everybody comes and gets their shot,” he said.

For weeks, vaccines have been given at CMMC, St. Mary’s, the two hospitals in Rumford and Bridgton and local pharmacies to individuals allowed under state guidelines. But a large-scale clinic will address Androscoggin County’s status as having the state’s second-lowest vaccination rate.

Portland, Bangor and Augusta have had mass vaccination clinics for weeks. Portland has three mass-volume sites, at the former Scarborough Downs, the Maine Mall and the Portland Expo.

On Monday, statistics from the Maine CDC showed 24.03% of Maine’s population has had a first vaccine. Androscoggin County’s rate is 18.1%. Cumberland County’s rate is 27.1%; Franklin County’s, 19.7%; and Oxford County’s, 20%.

Related Headlines

Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or login first for digital access. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.