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COVID-19 Vaccinations Begin At Scarborough Downs

Derek Davis
Pool/Portland Press Herald
Alice Goshorn gets vaccinated Wednesday at Scarborough Downs.

The high-volume COVID-19 vaccination clinic at the former Scarborough Downs harness racing track is now open.

The space was donated by developer Crossroads Holdings. In just 15 days, the former racetrack’s grandstand was retrofitted with clinical stations that will ultimately see thousands flow through for the COVID-19 vaccine. But on the first official opening day, a little more than 100 people were scheduled to get a shot, including 73-year-old Robyn Goshorn.

“This is my first trip to the racetrack,” he says with a laugh.

Goshorn and his 79-year-old wife, Alice, got the vaccine Wednesday morning during an event for the media. On their way to the clinic, Alice says the couple thought about their new grandson, who was born last spring in Chicago.

Credit Derek Davis / Pool/Portland Press Herald
Pool/Portland Press Herald
Robyn Goshorn gets his COVID-19 vaccination at Scarborough Downs on Wednesday.

“We are just very — eager is not the word, does not describe the word how anxious we are to be able to see him and be able to celebrate his first birthday,” she says.

Maine’s commissioner of the Department of Health and Human Services, Jeanne Lambrew, says the high-volume clinic moves the state forward in ramping up its vaccination effort.

“They can go quicker and bigger to use every vaccine we get unexpectedly within a week’s time. Because our goal is, as soon as we get that vaccine, to turn it around and get it into people’s arms,” she says.

In its first weeks, the Scarborough clinic will vaccinate 400-500 people each weekday. That could expand to weekend hours and as many as 2,000 people a day. But MaineHealth CEO Bill Caron says they’re constrained by available doses.

“Believe me, if we get enough vaccine, we’re going to ask the question, how do we get to 12 hours on Saturday and 12 hours on Sunday? This is a long road here,” he says.

Credit Derek Davis / Pool/Portland Press Herald
Pool/Portland Press Herald
MaineHealth CEO Bill Caron.

Demand is far outstripping supply, Caron says. The clinic is expected to be open for at least the next six months and the waitlist for the vaccine is long.

“As we stand here today, we have 60,000 people over age 70 on a list. We know who they are. As soon as we get vaccine and can schedule them, we will reach out to them and get them into one of our clinics,” he says.

A high-volume clinic also opened at the Cross Insurance Center in Bangor this week, run by Northern Light Health. Officials say it also has the capacity to vaccinate 2,000 people a day, but the available supply of doses limits the facility to about 2,000 a week.