© 2022 Maine Public
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
Available On Air Stations

State-run vaccine clinic draws large numbers after pharmacy cancellations

Virus Outbreak Maine
Robert F. Bukaty
A pharmacy technician loads a syringe with the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 Vaccine, Tuesday, March 2, 2021, at a mass vaccination site at the Portland Expo in Portland, Maine.

A state-run vaccination clinic quickly set up this week at the National Guard Armory in Augusta administered more than 1,000 COVID shots over two days, highlighting demand for booster shots.

Maine CDC director Dr. Nirav Shah became concerned last week after hearing that some retail pharmacies, particularly in central Maine, had canceled large numbers of vaccination appointments. As the reports piled up, Shah worked reached out to the Maine National Guard and the Maine Emergency Management Agency to stand up a clinic at the Augusta Armory. And the clinic proved so popular that officials had to put together a traffic flow plan, and Shah had to recruit additional medical staff from the nearby Maine CDC office to assist on site.

A total of 475 shots were administered on the first day at the Augusta Armory plus 500 more by early Wednesday afternoon. Shah said the overwhelming majority of people were seeking booster shots but that there were some people coming in for the first time. Additionally, Shah said he was pleased that more than a dozen children had been vaccinated as of Wednesday afternoon. Children age 5 and older are eligible for vaccination.

"We are offering all three vaccines,” Shah told reporters at the armory on Wednesday morning. “And anyone who is eligible — that is to say, those who are 5 and over — are welcome to come and get a shot. Whether it's your first dose, your second dose, or a booster, today is a great day to get vaccinated."

Shah said he was disappointed to hear that some pharmacies had blamed the cancelations on a lack of vaccine supply. That is "absolutely not the case" and there are ample supplies available from the Maine CDC, Shah said.