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Health

Northern Light Launches Hotline As Vaccinations Expand To Older Mainers

More clinics in Maine are offering the COVID-19 vaccine this week to people who are at least 70 years of age. Older adults will also have more options for how to make appointments, with the launch of one health care system’s new hotline.

Northern Light Health opened its hotline at 9 a.m. Monday to provide information about the COVID-19 vaccine. When the hotline started taking appointment requests at 2 p.m., physician leader of incident command, Dr. James Jarvis, says demand was high.

“Appointments opened up for this week filled up rather quickly, within about 20 minutes of us going live at 2 p.m.,” he says.

Jarvis says 600 slots were available at Eastern Maine Medical Center this week, and all other Northern Light locations are also operating clinics for people 70 and older, with the exception of Acadia Hospital. Appointments can still be made online, but the health care system created the hotline to reach older adults without internet access.

Jarvis says slots will open at 2 p.m. every Monday to allow time for Northern Light to confirm the number of doses it has available for the week.

“You don’t have to have a prior affiliation or relationship with Northern Light Health. Our doors are open to everybody,” he says.

Doors are also open for any adult 70 and older at a new clinic in Westbrook operated by MaineHealth. According to a news release, the clinic expects to vaccinate more than 1,800 people this week. MaineHealth also has clinics in southern, midcoast and western Maine. The health care organization is also expected to open a high-volume clinic at the former Scarborough Downs by the end of the month.

Nearly 40 clinic locations are listed on the state’s COVID-19 vaccination website. As of Monday, more than 87,000 people in Maine had received their first doses. The total number of people in the first phase of the vaccine rollout, 1A, is roughly 100,000.

There are about 193,000 people 70 and older in the state who are included in Phase 1B. State officials hope to complete vaccinations for Phase 1B by April.