Members of the Maine Air National Guard, Maine Army National Guard and employees of MaineGeneral assist people in receiving a COVID-19 vaccine Wednesday at the Augusta Civic Center. The soldiers and airmen were assisting elderly patients cross the parking lot with wheelchairs and escorts, confirming appointments and maintaining safe distancing and mask rules to supplement the hospital’s staff. Andy Molloy/Kennebec Journal Buy this Photo

AUGUSTA — A spokesperson from MaineGeneral Health said they have received “good feedback” at their new vaccination clinic at the Augusta Civic Center, which opened last week.

The vaccination site, run by MaineGeneral Health with support from the city and state Department of Health and Human Services, has given 1,354 vaccinations at the clinics since it opened on Feb. 17, according to MaineGeneral spokesperson Joy McKenna.

Earl Kingsbury, director of the Augusta Civic Center, said the clinic’s operations have been smooth.

“It gives people hope and they are so happy to get the vaccination,” he said.

Augusta firefighter and paramedic Jim Baldwin administers the second dose of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine to a volunteer first responder Wednesday at Hartford Fire Station in Augusta. The Augusta Fire Department injected 502 doses of the initial vaccine to firefighters, police, emergency medical workers and dispatchers from 18 communities in southern Kennebec County, according to Augusta Fire Department Battalion Chief Steve Leach. Kennebec County deputies, corrections officers, investigators with the Attorney General’s Office along with several troops within the State Police and agents of the Maine Drug Enforcement Agency are also receiving their second doses from paramedics at Augusta Fire with 204 administered so far, Leach said. Andy Molloy/Kennebec Journal Buy this Photo

McKenna said the clinic will have have enough vaccine this week to provide another 1,440 vaccinations. She said the clinic has the capacity to vaccinate “up to 1,000 people a day,” contingent on the number of doses the hospital receives from the federal government.

“We’ll be able to meet the community’s needs at the Augusta Civic Center,” McKenna said. “This is a great partnership between MaineGeneral, the State of Maine and the City of Augusta.”

She said people are able to get their vaccine “swiftly and effectively” at the site within 30-40 minutes, including a 15-minute observation period.

Mainers aged 70 and older are the only people currently eligible under Phase 1B of the state’s vaccination plan, along with healthcare workers who fit under Phase 1A of the plan. Eligibility will next open up for people ages 65-69 after that phase, according to the plan, and to certain front-line workers.

Central Mainers were struggling to get appointments to get limited quantities of vaccine after a MaineGeneral phone opened at the end of January. Hospital officials said the line received 400,000 calls in its first day. Since then, an online pre-registration service has been added to the organization’s website.

McKenna said there are “approximately 5,000 people age 70 and older” on the preregistration list waiting for vaccination. She said staff members are calling people back who preregistered  in order to schedule them for the next week’s clinics. McKenna said the organization cannot schedule out further because there is only one week of notice of the amount of vaccine.

Earlier this month, it was revealed that MaineGeneral offered the vaccine to 40 hand-picked people, including donors, as part of a test run of the vaccination process. The hospital said it did not intend to offer privileged access with the test.

Spokespersons from the health and human services department and the Maine Center for Disease Control were not available for comment Wednesday.

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