BAR HARBOR—Vaccines are on the way, but with limited supply and high demand, the rollout will take time.
Statewide, approximately 81,000 Mainers have received their first doses of the COVID-19 vaccine, and, as of Tuesday, 12,441 people have been given the required two doses.
Since December, Mount Desert Island Hospital has administered more than 550 doses of the vaccine and is about halfway through the so-called Phase 1A, which prioritizes healthcare workers, public safety workers and those in congregant living facilities. Locally, first doses have been given to staff and residents of Birch Bay Retirement Village, MDI Hospital’s front-facing workers and many other community health workers, said MDI Hospital CEO Chrissi Maguire.
The Bar Harbor Fire Department is simultaneously providing vaccinations to area emergency responders under a separate directive.
The staff at MDI hospital will not only inoculate its employees and patients but is also actively reaching out to all healthcare workers on the island and, as residents become eligible, will ensure a vaccine to anyone who wants one.
For the general public, the hospital has launched an online preregistration portal. While it will not give you an immediate appointment, it will get you into the system so when it comes time, you will be notified to schedule an appointment.
Maguire said that additional information required in the pre-registration process will help to better distribute the vaccines across its primary care clinics and help plan for overall doses needed communitywide.
While hospital officials know that the question on most peoples’ minds is when, it is nearly impossible to draft a timeline with any certainty.
During Tuesday’s CDC briefing, CDC Director Dr. Nirav Shah said there are 190,000 Mainers over the age of 70. With the current allocation of approximately 18,000 doses statewide per week, it will take time just to vaccinate that population.
After those age 70 and above are vaccinated, those ages 60 to 69 will then be eligible, followed by those with medical risks.
Maguire, on a Monday call with the Islander, said that the most challenging aspect is logistics and that those efforts are greatly hampered by the inability to obtain doses in a reliable way. That, coupled with the need to provide a 15- minute waiting period for each vaccination appointment and the fact that first and second doses need to be scheduled a specific number of days apart, will make scheduling difficult.
To tackle the problem of scheduling, Maguire said the hospital has created its own booking and reservation system and has been working to pilot it with its employees. The system will soon be rolled out to the larger community.
Plans are also in the works to establish off-campus sites to host vaccine clinics.
“We are attacking it at every level,” said Maguire, who said the hospital has been in touch with retired nurses and other medical professionals in an attempt to bolster its team of vaccine administrators.
To learn more about MDI Hospital’s COVID-19 response and to preregister for a vaccination appointment, visit mdihospital.org/covid-19-vaccine/.