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

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

The clinic will administer 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 said. “The ability to turn the tide in this war is about having mass vaccination ability of our public.”

Martin’s Point Healthcare offices in Brunswick are also collaborating on the effort.

“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,” Skillings said.

Vaccines will be available to those who meet the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention criteria for eligibility. Vaccination is offered by appointment only as a safety precaution.

Maine is in the middle of Phase 1A of the state’s 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.

As of Wednesday, Maine CDC 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.

Dr. Christopher Bowe, chief medical officer at Mid Coast–Parkview, told Brunswick councilors he can’t estimate when the hospital expects to have vaccines available for a greater swath of the population, noting the timeframe is dependent on vaccine availability.

Bowe said the available Pfizer and Moderna vaccines show up to 95% efficacy.

The vaccine will be free to individuals, but the hospital will charge insurance companies, Skillings said.

Patients who meet Maine CDC criteria will get invitations via email and phone from Mid Coast Hospital over the next few weeks.

Two doses of the vaccine are needed, spaced 3-4 weeks apart, according to the U.S. CDC.

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,” Bowe said, noting that calling the practices won’t speed up appointments.

“We’ll be doing large-scale public communication in as many ways as we can think of once we get these systems all settled in,” Skillings said.

Visit midcoasthealth.com/vaccine or call (877) 780-7545 to determine eligibility and connect with a MaineHealth vaccine scheduling team.

The clinic will be set up at the Brunswick Parks and Recreation Center.

Scam concerns

In anticipation of Mid Coast Hospital’s outreach to schedule vaccinations, the Brunswick Police Department warned the public about potential scams.

While calls about scheduling appointments are legitimate and may seek insurance information, callers will not be asking for money or credit card information, police warned.

Other vaccination clinics

Some local pharmacies are also administering vaccines, Skillings said.

The Brunswick-based Independence Association that supports people with intellectual and developmental disabilities will host a COVID-19 vaccination clinic for many of its clients and their caregivers Monday from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.

“People with Down syndrome are ten times more likely to die from COVID-19 than the general population, according to a study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine in October,” according to a statement from Independence Association. “This elevated mortality rate is a key reason for including this group among early vaccine recipients. A second reason is a likelihood that they may live in congregate settings, which increase the risk of spreading the virus.”

Residents and associates at Sunnybrook and Avita assisted living facilities in Brunswick received their first COVID-19 vaccines, according to Northbridge Senior Living Communities, which owns both facilities.

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 including wearing a mask in public and practicing social distancing.

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