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MaineHealth shifts COVID-19 vaccination strategy, placing emphasis on reaching adolescents and younger adults

May 06, 2021

Portland, Maine – MaineHealth, the region’s largest integrated health system, announced today that it is shifting its strategy for vaccinating its communities against COVID-19 in an effort to focus on the younger adults and adolescents who make up the bulk of the unvaccinated population in its service area.

With the expected approval from the federal government next week of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine for use in adolescents ages 12 -15, starting today MaineHealth is opening its registration system for people in that age group. MaineHealth is also working with school districts across its service area to set up in-school vaccination clinics, the first of which will be held in Oxford County next week.

With much of the population aged 60 and over now vaccinated, the demand for access at mass vaccination clinics has started to wane as younger adults seek options that fit within busy schedules. As a result, by May 20, MaineHealth will phase out operations at its mass vaccination clinic at the former Scarborough Downs harness racing track in Scarborough, shifting that effort to its existing vaccination site in Westbrook. The status of the health system’s two other mass vaccination clinics in Sanford and Brunswick continues to be evaluated based on volume and community need, though no decisions have been made as to exactly when those operations might no longer be required.

“We’ve reached a point in the vaccination effort where we need to adjust to meet people where they are,” said Joan Boomsma, chief medical officer of MaineHealth. “That means redeploying our resources to meet the needs of this younger population in different ways.”

To date, MaineHealth has administered approximately 350,000 doses of COVID-19 vaccines at sites in Belfast, Boothbay Harbor, Brunswick, Farmington, Norway, Rockland, Sanford, Scarborough, Westbrook, and North Conway, N.H. MaineHealth Care at Home is also administering vaccinations to its home health care patients across its service area.

“Across MaineHealth we have redeployed our care team members to help staff these clinics and take on this massive public health initiative, and we are grateful for their flexibility and dedication,” said Boomsma. “This also would not have been possible without hundreds of volunteers and our partners in business and government, including support from the Maine National Guard.”

Prior to closing May 20, the Scarborough Downs clinic, in addition to appointments made online or scheduled for second doses, will also offer the following walk-in options:

  • From Monday, May 10, through Thursday, May 13, vaccinations using the Johnson & Johnson Janssen vaccine will be available on a walk-in basis from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
  • From Monday, May 17, through Thursday, May 20, vaccinations using the Johnson & Johnson Janssen vaccine will be available on a walk-in basis from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

All people (including non-Mainers) over the age of 12 can be registered for an appointment at Vaccine.MaineHealth.org, and those 16 and over can schedule their appointment directly through that site. Information about walk-in options is also available through the website, and people can also register by calling 1-877-780-7545. Once registered, children under the age of 18, or their parents as appropriate, will be notified of an appointment at a clinic set up for younger patients. Only the Pfizer vaccine is available to people under the age of 18, and permission must be given by a parent or legal guardian.

Appointments at the vaccine clinic at Memorial Hospital in North Conway, N.H., can be made through the State of New Hampshire’s central registration site, www.vaccines.nh.gov.
Those seeking a vaccination should bring a photo ID and, though there are no out-of-pocket costs for getting the vaccine, people should bring their insurance information. Health insurance is not required, however, to receive a free vaccination.

In addition to offering on-demand scheduling and walk-in options, MaineHealth is working with local school districts to set up vaccination clinics for children 12 and older. The first of these will take place in Oxford County, with clinics scheduled for students ages 16 and older on Tuesday at Poland Regional High School and on Thursday at Oxford Hills Comprehensive High School. With the anticipated approval by the FDA for use of the Pfizer vaccine in children aged 12 and older next week, MaineHealth is reaching out to school districts across its system to set up clinics at middle and high schools.

“Our goal is to get into the schools soon enough so that we can schedule second doses for students ahead of the end of the school year,” said Boomsma.

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About MaineHealth:
MaineHealth is a not-for-profit integrated health system consisting of nine local hospital systems, a comprehensive behavioral healthcare network, diagnostic services, home health agencies, and more than 1,700 employed and independent physicians working together through an Accountable Care Organization. With close to 23,000 employees, MaineHealth is the largest health system in northern New England and provides preventive care, diagnosis and treatment to 1.1 million residents in Maine and New Hampshire. It includes Franklin Memorial Hospital/Franklin Community Health Network in Farmington, LincolnHealth in Damariscotta and Boothbay Harbor, Maine Behavioral Healthcare in South Portland, MaineHealth Care at Home in Saco, Maine Medical Center in Portland, Memorial Hospital in North Conway, N.H., Mid Coast-Parkview Health in Brunswick, NorDx in Scarborough, Pen Bay Medical Center and Waldo County General Hospital in Rockport and Belfast, Southern Maine Health Care in Biddeford and Sanford, Spring Harbor Hospital in Westbrook and Stephens Memorial Hospital/Western Maine Health Care in Norway. MaineHealth Affiliates include Maine General Health in Augusta and Waterville, New England Rehabilitation Hospital in Portland and St. Mary's Regional Medical Center in Lewiston. It is also a significant stakeholder in the MaineHealth Accountable Care Organization in Portland.

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