COVID-19 vaccination expanded, Mainers 50 & older now eligible

Those 50 and over were allowed to sign up as of 2pm Monday afternoon.
Northern Light Health expanded its coronavirus vaccination sign up availability to those 50 and...
Northern Light Health expanded its coronavirus vaccination sign up availability to those 50 and older Monday afternoon.
Published: Mar. 22, 2021 at 12:04 PM EDT
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BANGOR, Maine (WABI) - Maine’s coronavirus vaccination plan sees a major shift this week.

As of Tuesday, those 50 and older are eligible for a shot.

TV5 spoke with an official at Northern Light Health as they started taking new appointments Monday afternoon.

“What we found between the people ages 60 and 70 is it we did not see as great a response as we saw with people 70 and above,” said Northern Light Health’s Dr. James Jarvis, who cites that lack of sign ups among the reasons the state made the announcement Friday they would make those 50 and over eligible to receive a vaccine as of Tuesday.

Adults 16 to 49 become eligible on April 19th.

“We did have open appointments here at the Cross insurance Center on Saturday,” he said. “We could’ve probably done about 2300 people. We did about 2000.”

Keeping with their previous practices, Northern Light opened up appointments at 2 Monday afternoon - knowing the demand would grow with around 165-thousand more people eligible - TV5′s Jon Small among them - Northern Light feels it’s prepared.

“We made some improvements to our website,” he said. “First and foremost, the site itself can handle more people at the same time. Then we built a virtual waiting room. Those that don’t get into the queue to immediately start scheduling their own appointment will be held into a waiting room for a period of time, and that will be queued up in the order that people actually reached that website. As people finish their scheduling, they will let people out of the waiting room automatically and into the website It worked very well for us this past week, so we expect it will work well for us this week. We do expect there’ll be some delays because of increased volume.”

Jarvis sees Northern Light’s Cross Center Clinic playing a large role in what’s to come.

“We built this facility in order to be able to handle between four and 5,000 individuals a day,” he said. “So far, our maximum has been just shy of 2,800, so we have room for us to grow. Those limitations are always based on the amount of vaccine that we have had beyond anything else. We expect will be getting more vaccine into the state of Maine in April. We expect it will be able to wrap this up even larger than what we’d already been doing. Again, that’s good news to get more people through faster.”

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