Kevin Dumas, PharmD, Mid Coast Hospital’s Director of Pharmacy, receives the first shipment of the Moderna vaccine at Mid Coast Hospital last week. Photo courtesy of Judy Kelsh

BRUNSWICK — Mid Coast Hospital administered the first of the area’s 1,000 doses of the Moderna vaccine  Monday, and officials project that by the end of the week, nearly 1,200 Mid Coast Parkview Health employees will have received one of the first of immunizations against COVID-19. 

Officials received 125 doses of the Pfizer vaccine, the other drug approved to combat the virus, earlier this month and distributed the first doses Dec. 16. 

“It’s almost like a celebration because people are so excited to vaccinate,” Dr. Christopher Bowe, chief medical officer said. “We’re all feeling like we’re at the beginning of a marathon, when you’re all excited and can’t wait to take off.”

According to hospital officials, distribution was first focused on intensive care unit teams, emergency department caregivers, and those providing care in dedicated COVID-19 inpatient units.

With the Pfizer vaccine and the recent shipment of the Moderna, the remaining patient-facing staff in the agency’s practices and home care clinics can be immunized, Bowe said. 

The vaccine is not mandatory for hospital staff, but it is encouraged, and Bowe said roughly 75 percent of those eligible have either received or signed up to receive the first dose. 

The second shot will follow the Pfizer booster after 21 days, while the second for Moderna will be in 28 days. 

Mid Coast Parkview Health employs just over 2,000 so to vaccinate everyone on staff will require an as-of-yet unscheduled third shipment, he said.

Hospital officials are still figuring out when to inoculate the hospital’s final group of employees,  who do not interact with patients. At the same time, they are also working on plans to potentially provide vaccines to other medical front line workers in private practices in the area, like dentists or physical therapists, among others, Bowe said. It is unclear which group may receive vaccines first. 

So far, vaccine rollout has been going very well, Bowe said. 

One staff member had an allergic reaction to the Pfizer shot, was treated in the emergency room and released. The person has a history of allergic reactions to vaccinations, Bowe said, and was therefore prepared with an EpiPen. 

It is still unclear when the general public will be able to get the vaccine, but Bowe is hopeful it will be by late spring. 

“I think we’re finding our way to safely administering it to a large number of people,” he said, adding that the next steps are determining who will be prioritized.

“Personally I can’t wait for the moment when we can say anybody who wants the vaccine can get it,” he said. “The sooner the better.” 

According to hospital spokesperson Judy Kelsh, Mid Coast Hospital is currently treating five inpatients for COVID-19. Since March, they have treated 64 patients for the virus at the hospital. There have been 373 confirmed positive tests since March, with 167 of those just this month. 

As of Wednesday evening, 23,527 people have been vaccinated in Maine, according to the Maine CDC Covid-19 dashboard. 

Since the pandemic began, Maine has recorded 23,499 confirmed or probable cases of COVID-19, and 334 deaths. The Maine CDC reported 590 new cases Wednesday

Of the more than 23,000 confirmed or probable cases statewide, 170 have been in Brunswick, 114 in Freeport, 68 in Topsham and 51 in bath, according to data from the Maine CDC. The numbers for Brunswick and Freeport were updated Dec. 27, while those in Topsham in Bath were last updated Dec. 13. 

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