Alice Goshorn, 79, of South Portland, shown here, and her husband, Robyn, were the first two patients to receive a COVID-19 vaccination at MaineHealth’s vaccine clinic at Scarborough Downs on opening day Feb. 3. Andrea Lai of Maine Medical Center is giving the shot. Courtesy / MaineHealth

SCARBOROUGH — South Portland resident Judith Shaw said the process for getting the first of the two-shot vaccination against COVID-19 was a breeze.

“There was no confusion at all,” she said of the vaccination process at the new MaineHealth clinic at the former Scarborough Downs harness racetrack.

The clinic opened Feb. 3 after a 15-day renovation of the track by 100 workers from 41 Maine-based companies, according to a statement from MaineHealth. Scarborough development firm Crossroads Holdings, which is developing the Downs’ 500-plus acres, led the effort to renovate the track into the mass-vaccination center.

MaineHealth spokeswoman Caroline Cornish said as of  Feb. 16 the clinic had administered just over 5,000 first doses of the vaccine. Cornish she did not know how many vaccines MaineHealth ultimately expects the clinic to administer. The clinic will remain open for at least six months, she said, with the potential to be open longer if needed.

According to Cornish, MaineHealth had received all the doses it was promised by the state, but the clinic could handle more patients. MaineHealth Clinical Medical Director Dr. Nathan Mick said this week that the clinic has a capacity of up to 2,000 doses per day, administered by 20 vaccinators. There are 10-12 people working at any one time, administering between 600 and 800 vaccines per day.

Mick said the only thing keeping the clinic from running at capacity was a shortage of vaccines, which he noted is happening nationwide.

“We’re doing what we can with the amount we’ve been given by the state, but we’re by no means saturated,” he said.

Mick said the center serves Mainers age 70 or older, focusing on Cumberland County and other areas of Southern Maine.

Shaw and her husband, Fred Shaw, both 75, along with Shaw’s 78-year-old sister-in-law, all received shots on Feb. 5. After calling to register in mid-January a call back came Feb. 2 to set up appointments for all three. She said the clinic ran smoothly and offered her help the whole way.

“They even have a person directing traffic in the parking lot,” she said.

There were no lines and no waiting, Shaw said. They just had to sign a form consenting to treatment, after which they were immediately brought in for the vaccination. The clinic set up appointments for their second shots, and the process was over. When asked if she had any side effects from it, she said, “Nothing. Nothing at all. You wouldn’t know I’d even had the shot.”

One of the toughest parts of the pandemic, she said, concerned her husband, Fred. Shaw said he has other health problems that have required him to go to the hospital from time to time, and she hasn’t been allowed to go in with him.

“It’s made it very hard for him, too,” she said.

But Shaw said she hopes that once she gets her second shot on March 5 she’ll be able to accompany her husband for medical appointments again.

Mick said administering the vaccine three to four weeks apart is typical. Overall, he said, even the clinicians are enjoying the experience, after months of fear, illness and death.

“It’s the first little bit of hope that we’ve had,” he said.

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