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Sanford Vaccine Clinic Officially Opens

Dr. Nirav Shah, Director of Maine CDC, speaks at the opening of the new high-volume vaccine center in South Sanford.

The high-volume vaccine clinic at the former Marshall’s store officially opened today after weeks of anticipation. The opening ceremony was hosted by York County Manager Greg Zinser.

Richard Dutremble, Chair of the York County Commissioners, thanked all those who worked hard to get the clinic up and running. Mr. Zinser thanked Sanford Mayor Anne-Marie Mastraccio, City Manager Steven Buck, members of the City Council and State Representative John Tuttle for their support.

Dr. Michael Schmitz of Southern Maine Health Care was introduced as the Director of the clinic. He spoke of having a sense of relief at being able to take this important step, and said he looks forward to “closing these doors for good, knowing we have completed our mission.”

Mayor Mastraccio thanked Dr. Nirav Shah, Director of Maine CDC. “This center, with its central York County location…will give us the capacity we need to combat this virus,” she said. She drew chuckles from the crowd when she added, “Today, I can honestly say, for the first time in a long time, that I don’t miss Marshall’s.”

In his remarks, Dr. Shah said that the only way to get the pandemic under control this year is with high-volume sites like this one. He said a number of factors went into the choice of the Marshall’s site, including the centralized location and the abundance of parking, but quipped that “the men’s fashions, and incredible savings everywhere you look,” were also factors.

On a more serious note, he said the collaboration of the City, County, Emergency Management Agency and health care providers was instrumental in getting the clinic up and running. He particularly singled out York County Emergency Management Director Art Cleaves for his contribution. “We wouldn’t be here without you,” he said. The first responder community was the backbone of the site, he added.

Dr. Shah called the opening of the Sanford clinic “an important point in our vaccination journey.” He thanked Mary and Chuck, two members of the public who had agreed to be vaccinated publicly for the event, and told them that after they are fully vaccinated, they can see their friends and hug their grandchildren again. “I’m so excited for you,” he said, “Let this be the first of many happy days to come.”

Mr. Zinser closed by thanking many more people who helped get the center open, as well as the staff members who will be working on site.

The clinic is designed with a one-way traffic flow. As you enter for your appointment, you are greeted at the pre-screening table, where you are given hand sanitizer and a clean mask, and asked a series of questions about possible symptoms and exposure. From there, you pick up your paperwork and move to one of the registration stations along the right side wall of the clinic. After registering, someone escorts you to the back of the clinic, where vaccinations are given behind a privacy partition. After being vaccinated, you go to one of the checkout stations along the left side wall. The last stop is the observation area, where you sit for 15 minutes while someone observes you for any possible allergic reaction to the vaccine. To minimize contact with others, you exit the clinic through a separate door from those who are entering.

The clinic will be open six days a week (closed Tuesdays) from 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., with plans to expand the hours as more vaccine becomes available. When fully supplied, the clinic will be able to vaccinate up to 1,000 people per day, and is expected to be open for at least six months. It will be staffed by vaccinators, clinicians and support personnel from Southern Maine Health Care (SMHC), part of MaineHealth, and York County emergency management agencies and municipalities.  The SMHC Vaccine Clinic at Sanford Medical Center (formally Goodall Hospital) has transitioned its operations and staff to this new location.

The vaccine is available by appointment only. Call MaineHealth at 877-780-7545 to register, if you are age 60 or over. Younger people can pre-register at the same number.

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