Hospital begins community vaccination program

3 years ago

CARIBOU, Maine — Cary Medical Center and Pines Health Services have begun a COVID-19 community vaccination program. After completing vaccines for front-line hospital workers and other health care providers the hospital and Pines have started to schedule individuals 70 and over to get the first dose of the Moderna vaccine.  

The first public clinic was conducted Jan. 20 in the Chan Center at Cary.  Kris Doody, RN, Cary/Pines CEO, said that being able to begin community vaccinations represents a major movement to confront the virus. 

“For more than a year we have been waging a battle against the virus using public health guidelines,” said Doody who has joined other staff in giving vaccinations.  “But today, while our supply of vaccine is limited, we were able to go on the offensive by offering some protection through the COVID-19 vaccine.  We are overjoyed that we have begun our initial effort and we won’t stop until everyone who desires to get the vaccine has the opportunity.”

Doody praised the staff at Cary and Pines for their tireless efforts coping with COVID-19.  And she encouraged members of the public to get vaccinated.

“Our staff, from doctors to nurses, technologists, therapists housekeepers, food service workers and all those on the front lines are the true heroes of this Pandemic,” said Doody.  “That is why we urge everyone to become part of the solution and get vaccinated.” She also said public vaccinations are dependent upon the amount of vaccine the hospital receives.

“We can only vaccinate the number of people by the number of doses of the vaccine that are provided to us by the state,” she said.  “We are strictly following the instructions of the Maine CDC in administering the vaccine on the schedule they recommend.”

Regen Gallagher, DO and chief medical officer at Cary, said the first public clinic that was offered on Wednesday, in the Chan Center at Cary went very smoothly.

“We were very pleased with the way the clinic functioned,” said Gallagher, who heads Cary’s COVID-19 response.  “People seemed very grateful to have the opportunity to get their first dose and everyone who was scheduled showed up.  That is key because we will not waste a single dose of vaccine, it is so precious.”

Pines patients 70 and older are being contacted and scheduled to receive their first dose.  Once people receive the first dose they are scheduled for their second dose and are provided with a card with that date.  According to Dr. Gallagher, staff at Cary and Pines are developing the option for individuals to schedule their own vaccine online in the near future.  

“Just as soon as the supply of vaccine is adequate and reliable we can expand our clinics and hope to have this online scheduling available,” said Gallagher.  “Right now we want to work through our initial numbers of those 70 and older.  We have developed a database of our Pines patients in this age group and we will be reaching out to them to schedule their vaccine appointment over the next days and weeks.  We appreciate the public’s patience as we do our best to deliver the vaccine as soon as we possibly can.”

Gallagher urged people to maintain safety measures.

“Until we have reached at least 75 to 80 percent of the general public with both doses of vaccine we urge everyone to continue to wear a face mask whenever they are with people outside of their home.  We also recommend that people avoid any gatherings outside their immediate household and that people wash their hands often.  By doing these things we can substantially reduce our risk for infection.  We are getting closer and closer to putting this vaccine behind us but we must continue to remain vigilant.”

More information on the vaccination clinics is available by calling 207-498-1638.