Scarborough Downs will soon become the site of Maine’s first mass COVID-19 vaccination clinic.
The former harness racing track’s grandstand is being retrofitted and will begin vaccinating at least 1,000 people a day by the end of the month.
The owner and developer of the former Scarborough Downs, Crossroad Holdings, donated use of the grandstand to MaineHealth. According to a written statement, construction crews will work seven days a week until the clinic is completed. It’s expected to open by the end of January and be operational for six months.
Maine CDC director Dr. Nirav Shah says the high-volume clinic will kickstart broader vaccine distribution and ease demand at other sites.
“That’s what this does. That gradually and collectively reduces pressure on all of the other lines, because folks can float over to that new line, and in this case, that new line is an express lane,” he says.
Shah says the state is working to open other mass vaccination sites in major population areas, including Bangor. But exactly how many sites will depend on the ability of existing vaccination clinics to scale up.
“If we are starting to get in a position where we’re getting more vaccine in the state than the existing channels can accommodate, then we’ll look to establish more such locations,” he says.
Maine is far from reaching that point. Recent allotments of the COVID-19 vaccine have been flat, and next week’s allocation is 17,575 doses. That’s nearly 1,000 doses less than what was received this week.