Ellie Roberts, a nurse with the state Department of Health and Human Services, prepares one of the final doses of COVID-19 vaccine at the mass-vaccination clinic run by MaineHealth at the Scarborough Downs racetrack on Wednesday. The clinic will close this week, turning its focus to mobile vaccination stations traveling throughout the area. Sean Murphy / The Forecaster

After three months and shots in more than 87,000 arms, MaineHealth is closing this week the COVID-19 mass-vaccination clinic it has been running at the former Scarborough Downs racetrack in Scarborough since February.

Organizers said the nonprofit will still offer vaccinations in the area, with mobile vaccination units expected to visit schools, community centers and businesses.

Patients getting vaccines at MaineHealth’s clinic at the former Scarborough Downs racetrack were encouraged to post notes on their way out. To date, organizers estimate more than 200 notes of thanks adorn the clinic’s walls, including messages from Sen. Susan Collins, Gov. Janet Mills and Maine Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Nirav Shah. Sean Murphy / The Forecaster

“We’re taking the show on the road, if you will,” said Mike Bianchi, vice president for MaineHealth’s Cancer Care Network, and one of the managers supervising the clinic.

MaineHealth will send mobile vaccine clinics to schools in Oxford County first. Locally, Bianchi they are negotiating with Gorham, Cape Elizabeth and Windham/Raymond school districts.

The Scarborough Downs site was one of four MaineHealth mass-vaccination clinics, the other three being in Westbrook, Sanford and Brunswick. In a May 7 statement announcing the closure, MaineHealth said no decisions had been made on the other sites.

Bianchi said at its peak, the Scarborough clinic was administering as many as 1,700 vaccines per day. As of May 17, he said, the clinic had given 87,000 doses, largely focusing on people age 60 and older, as well as essential workers such as first responders and teachers. MaineHealth said it has administered 350,000 doses throughout the state and in North Conway, New Hampshire, which means the Scarborough clinic accounts for nearly 25% of those.

Bianchi said the nonprofit did not have a target number of vaccines to administer in the clinic, but he said he was pleased with what the clinic had accomplished in three months.

“I’m floored, when you look at it,” he said.

The clinic is run by a total of 125 people, a mixture of MaineHealth staff and volunteers. Employees at companies such as L.L. Bean, Unum and WEX all came to volunteer, Bianchi said.

On Wednesday, staff and volunteers were upbeat, working to prepare vaccines and meeting with patients. Somewhere, a radio played music from a Top 40 station. Against three walls were at least 200 messages posted by grateful patients, with messages such as “God bless all of you!” “Yippee,” and “Kicking COVID to the curb.”

Warren Alpern is one of the clinic’s volunteers. A retired cardiologist, he got a call from a former co-worker at Maine Medical Center asking if he wanted to help at the clinic. He didn’t even hesitate, he said.

“If there was something I could do to get this chaos in the rear-view mirror, I’m all for it,” Alpern said.

Since many of the patients came by appointment, the system for getting people was very smooth, Alpern said. Visitors were upbeat, some with questions, but most in good humor.

“I have yet to have someone tell me they’ve had a bad experience,” Alpern said.

Most patients received their doses with no reactions, according to Scot Remick, chief of oncology at MaineHealth’s Cancer Care Network. He has also worked at the clinic since it opened, and estimated no more than six people in total since then had a reaction bad enough to require hospitalization. In each of those cases, he said, the patients in question had pre-existing conditions.

For example, Remick said, one patient who suffers from chronic headaches found the shot made the headache so much worse the clinic called an ambulance for the patient, just to be safe.

Remick said there were a similar number of cases where people fainted after getting their shots, but he attributed that to people being worried about the disease.

“There’s an awful lot of anxiety coming in to get the vaccine,” he said.

Remick assured nervous patients, however, that they needn’t worry. The Scarborough clinic and other vaccination sites are prepared for everything from mild fainting to allergic reactions, all of which are quite rare.

“It’s a very safe vaccine,” he said.

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