Nurse Laura Labbe administering a COVID-19 vaccine to Tracy Gardner of Brunswick on Thursday. Courtesy of Mid Coast Hospital

As COVID-19 cases begin to climb in Maine amid a surge of the delta variant, officials at Mid Coast Hospital are continuing to encourage unvaccinated people to get the jab.

On Saturday, the Portland Press Herald reported that an uptick in cases is continuing in the state, with the seven-day average of new cases now at 70, up from a low of 14.4 in early July.

As of Friday, Mid Coast Hospital in Brunswick had administered 60,925 total doses of COVID-19 vaccine. The clinic relocated from Brunswick Landing to downsize at the end of May after administering over 57,000 doses.

This translates to an average of about 500 doses a week since leaving the landing. Vaccination is now available at the hospital’s walk-in center at Brunswick Station Monday through Friday from 4-7 p.m.

Individuals can now choose between the one-dose Johnson & Johnson and the two-dose Pfizer vaccine.

“By far the most important thing that people can do is get vaccinated and encourage their loved ones and those they spend time with to get vaccinated,” said Mid Coast Hospital’s Chief Medical Officer Dr. Christopher Bowe. “We’re now eight months into our vaccination efforts, and the vaccine has had an incredibly successful safety record.”

Despite a nationwide surge in virus cases that is attributed to the more contagious delta variant of COVID-19, the Press Herald also reported that, according to Maine CDC Director Dr. Nirav Shah, most new cases in the state do not yet appear to be a result of the variant.

As of Friday, Mid Coast Hospital had no patients infected with COVID-19. Bowe said that while the hospital does not test every case for the delta variant, the lab does routinely test for the variant in breakthrough cases where vaccinated individuals test positive.

“I believe that the success of the state of Maine in vaccinating eligible individuals is offering us some significant protection in that we won’t have a second wave with a peak as similar to our previous waves,” said Bowe. “However, delta is prevalent in Maine, and even more concerning is the possibility of a different variant that’s even more contagious.”

According to Mid Coast Hospital Marketing Communications Senior Director Judith Kelsh, while an exact figure was not readily available Friday, the hospital has a “good supply” of doses for anyone wishing to get vaccinated in the community.

Bowe said he had not heard of any doses expiring at Mid Coast Hospital, and the hospital is also working to supply vaccine in primary care practices.

Nurse Laura Labbe, who works as the hospital’s vaccine administration clinical manager, said that the most shots she has administered during a three-hour shift at the new location was 44. Total staff for the walk-in clinic is about 10, with two people per shift.

“The workplace has downsized, but the roles and the functions and the flow are all the same,” Labbe said. “We go through the same process that we did at the Landing.”

According to Labbe, patients at the new clinic include 12-year-olds on, or shortly after, their birthday, travelers who got the first dose in another state, individuals concerned about the delta variant and older folks who have warmed up to vaccination after talking with primary care providers.

“Now we’re all reflecting on the gravity of our accomplishment,” Labbe said. “It has definitely changed the way I look at my career.”

As of Sunday, 68,904 cases of COVID-19 have been reported statewide, alongside 897 deaths. In Cumberland County, there have been 17,414 cases and 205 deaths.

68.12% of Maine and 81.02% of Cumberland County have received a final dose of vaccine. The CDC estimates that 99% of Brunswick residents have received at least one dose of the vaccine.

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