BAR HARBOR—This past week, the staff of Mount Desert Island Hospital, its associated practices and vaccine clinics put 900 shots into arms. This was the hospital’s largest weekly allotment of doses, adding to the 5,753 administered to date.
At this point, demand continues to outpace supply. Reservations for appointments book within hours of being released.
The rush to get residents vaccinated is pushing against a steadily climbing statewide positivity rate, which is a concern for healthcare professionals already worried that pandemic fatigue continues to grow. “We seem to be losing vigilance,” said MDI Hospital CEO Chrissi Maguire. “It impedes progress and makes the tunnel longer,” she said, referring to that proverbial light at the end of the tunnel marking the end of the pandemic.
Vaccine doses have so far been given to frontline hospital workers, have been made available to all staff of the Mount Desert Island Regional School System (AOS#91) and have been administered to residents at the Birch Bay Retirement Village in addition to as many seniors in the community as possible. As eligibility expands to those 16 years and older this week, Maguire said the hospital has plans to help vaccinate seasonal employees and students of higher education who will be spending time on Mount Desert Island this summer.
Guidelines recently rereleased by the Maine Center for Disease Control have expanded the definition of a Maine resident to include those two populations. MDI Hospital, in partnership with College of the Atlantic and the business community, are actively working to increase weekly dose allotments.
Seasonal workers and nonresident students need a note from their school or employer to receive the vaccine.
The best day to schedule a COVID-19 vaccination at MDI Hospital is Friday, which is the day new appointments go live.
Each Thursday, the hospital receives notification of its allotment for the following week, explained Maguire. Doses are then further allocated across the hospital’s family practices and newly–formed COVID-19 clinics. The hospital has been partnering with Ocean Properties, which has been giving space at its Bar Harbor Regency Hotel for the clinics.
To register for one of the clinics, visit mdihospital.org/covid-19-vaccine at any time or call the vaccine hotline at (207) 801-5011 between noon and 1 p.m. on Fridays to speak with a scheduler.
Maguire said that the vaccine rollout has gone smoothly so far, and the acceptance rate has been high. The next step, she said, will involve additional messaging and public service announcements aimed at reaching those in the community who may be hesitant to receive the vaccine.
Speaking to that point during Tuesday’s CDC briefing, CDC Director Dr. Nirav Shah noted that while Maine ranked in the top five states in the nation in terms of percentage of those vaccinated, hesitancy is a concern he shares.
For those who harbor concerns or who would like additional information, Shah said that residents can always email the CDC or send a message to the organization through their many social media channels and their questions will be answered.