A Westbrook EMS worker gets his first dose of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccination Dec. 29 at the Public Safety Building. The city is working on getting a vaccination site of it’s own for the public, which would be staffed by public safety employees. Courtesy / Westbrook Public Safety

WESTBROOK — The city is awaiting approval from state officials to set up a community COVID-19 vaccination site at the Westbrook Community Center, with the hope of getting it up and running next month.

“As soon as we are notified from the state, they’ll have information as to when we can start,” said City Health Officer and Fire Chief Andrew Turcotte. “It may start slower until we get folks on-boarded, but I anticipate within a few weeks of notification we should be running.”

It is too soon to say when residents will be able to get vaccinated, Turcotte said, and it depends on the supply of the vaccine.

The city’s EMS staff received their first round of vaccinations Dec. 29, and will receive the second dose “within a week or two,” Turcotte said. About 150 other first responders in the city will receive their first dose within a few weeks.

“Obviously, much is dependent upon the supply chain and it has been hit or miss as to whether or not the agencies who have been tasked with vaccinating public safety employees receive adequate doses,” Turcotte said.

The vaccination site would be staffed in-house like the COVID-19 testing site at the Public Safety building, but some temporary hires may be needed to meet demand, he said.

The vaccination team also would travel to other sites, such as congregate care facilities, when necessary, he said.

Mayor Mike Foley said the site will “make it easy for residents to get vaccinated so we can begin to get back to normal following the pandemic.”

The testing site, meanwhile, continues to fill all available time slots and tests more than 100 people a day, he said. Funding for the tests has been approved through March 31.

Turcotte stressed the importance of continued testing.

“Right now, looking at the last week or so, we are roughly around probably 5% positive for each test,” Turcotte  said. “Close to 40% of those positive cases are asymptomatic.”

According to the Cumberland County report from Jan. 10, Westbrook has seen about 791 positive cases since the start of the pandemic, on par with neighboring South Portland at 815 cases.

Some congregate care facilities and elderly homes have already gotten their first round of vaccines, including the Stroudwater Lodge and Avita of Stroudwater on Landing Road.

“With the virus spreading like it is, I thought it was important to get the vaccination,” Stroudwater Lodge resident Connie Levesque said in press release from the facility. “I feel as though we can be helping other people by getting the vaccine. It is a great example to your family to know you are taking care of yourself. We must do these things.”

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