Mid Coast Hospital Vaccination Clinic volunteer Arthur Pierce. Courtesy of Mid Coast Hospital

Even after more than four months of leading Mid Coast Hospital’s vaccine clinic, nurse Laura Labbe said that she is still not tired.

“It’s just so amazing that when you see somebody get a shot it just gives you energy,” said Labbe, who works as the hospital’s vaccine administration clinical manager. “You’re ending the pandemic one shot at a time, and I think meeting the community, one person at a time, has been very profound for me. Everyone from all walks of life have come through that door.”

Labbe is one of about 20 Mid Coast Hospital employees who worked alongside over 1,000 volunteers to run the Brunswick Landing COVID-19 vaccination clinic, which is closing Thursday after administering over 57,000 vaccines. Walk-ins will still be available Thursday from 9 a.m. to noon.

Mid Coast Hospital will continue to offer appointments and walk-in availability for COVID-19 vaccination at the hospital campus on Medical Center Drive starting June 1.

The clinic first opened to those 70 and older, firefighters and police officers on Jan. 25. Over the months, as the CDC has further authorized vaccine eligibility, the clinic has begun to offer shots to anyone aged 12 and older.

According to a census estimate, Brunswick is home to 20,535 people. According to the Maine CDC, as of May 17, 82% of Brunswick residents 12 and older have had at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine.

Mid Coast Hospital Nurse Laura Labbe. Courtesy of Mid Coast Hospital

Labbe, who has been a nurse at Mid Coast Hospital since 1997, said that prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, she was already familiar with the process of mass vaccinations after having worked for flu-shot clinics.

For many staff members, working at the clinic has been “the highlight of our careers,” Labbe said.

Labbe said she averaged about four or five days-a-week at the Landing clinic, doing both managerial work and administering vaccines. She estimated that she has administered several hundred shots.

“It ran very seamlessly” Labbe said, praising the volunteers and comparing the process to an automobile assembly line. “It went like clockwork, so I was really proud of the teamwork and the wonderful people that helped put it together.”

The news comes as other mass vaccination clinics are beginning to close their doors and virus cases continue to fall statewide.

“I think the clinic has been an amazing success story,” said Mid Coast Hospital’s Chief Medical Officer Dr. Christopher Bowe.

According to Bowe, the move was prompted, in part, due to a diminishing demand for vaccination, one that can now be met through the hospital’s facilities. The hospital is also shifting vaccination efforts to focus on bringing vaccines to people in different settings that may be more likely to get the shot if it is brought to them.

Bowe said, however, there is still work to be done in demonstrating to the public that the vaccines are safe and effective.

“We continue to have sick patients in our hospital who haven’t been vaccinated and now at this point we know people have had that opportunity,” said Bowe. “So, it is very challenging and at times nearly devastating for our staff to take care of someone who is young and healthy and then critically ill with COVID when we believe we could prevent that with vaccination.”

Brunswick’s Director of Parks and Recreation Tom Farrell said that, while the building was being used for the clinic, the department was successful in finding other venues for their programs.

“We couldn’t be more pleased to have been a major player in being able to get this vaccine distribution done on a large scale in our region,” Farrell said, adding the clinic introduced many people to the recreation facility that had never seen it before. “I think a lot of people who discovered it via coming to get their vaccination will be back utilizing the facilities once we reopen fully.”

Farrell said that, with specific COVID-19 guidelines, the Parks and Recreation building will reopen to the public on Tuesday, June 1 for full use.

As of Wednesday, 67,297 cases of COVID-19 have been reported statewide, alongside 825 deaths. In Cumberland County, there have been 17,049 cases and 195 deaths. 57.6% of Maine’s population has received a final dose of vaccine.


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