Maine’s third large-scale coronavirus vaccine clinic is expected to be opened by mid-February in a shopping center in hard-hit York County.
Details are still being finalized, but the location will likely be the closed Marshalls store in Sanford, said Art Cleaves, the director of the York County Emergency Management Agency. It will be staffed by a combination of York Hospital and MaineHealth’s Southern Maine Health Care location in Biddeford. The clinic is expected to vaccinate older Mainers as the state works its way through the second part of its first vaccination phase, he said.
Maine Center for Disease Control Director Nirav Shah said on Tuesday the clinic could vaccinate up to 1,200 people a day, making it the third-largest clinic in the state. The Cross Insurance Center and Scarborough Downs, where Northern Light Health and MaineHealth, respectively, have created two clinics, are capable of vaccinating up to 2,000 people a day, though limited supply is keeping those clinics far under capacity as they ramp up.
Cleaves said York County does not have any large locations like those to build a clinic in, but the location is central to the county and intersects with routes 109 and 4. Shah has said the state is trying to locate vaccination clinic sites that are easily accessible to a large number of people, walkable if possible and with plenty of parking.
The county is the second-most populous in the state and has been heavily impacted by the virus. It currently has 416 cases per 10,000 people, the highest rate in the state, although it is second in the state in terms of overall COVID-19 cases, according to state data. Only 5 percent of its population has received a first dose.
There has yet to be a large-scale vaccination effort in the county. Cleaves said his agency’s staff, along with local first responders, have been working to vaccinate other first responders. Some vaccines have come to York Hospital, but the stagnant vaccine supply has occasionally stymied immunization efforts there, with the hospital receiving no doses last week.
Shah said during a Tuesday briefing that he would not send doses to places that would be unable to administer them. But the state is trying to allocate more vaccines on a population basis, he said, and the clinic may be able to facilitate that dispersion.