FAIRFIELD — Northern Light Inland Hospital held its first community vaccination clinic Tuesday at Kennebec Valley Community College in Fairfield, administering 92 doses to health care workers and those 70 or older.

Appointments are already filled for future clinics that Inland and KVCC are hosting this week, according to hospital officials.

“We are very excited to be moving into this phase of community vaccinations,” Inland President Terri Vieira said Tuesday in a news release. “We have started dose two of the vaccine with our own staff, and we’re pleased to be moving onward to vaccinate more people in the communities we serve. It’s progress, it’s hope. At the same time, we have to be patient as the vaccine supply is still significantly lower than we had hoped.”

Vieira said Inland needed a community partner to provide mass vaccination clinics, and KVCC rose to the task, offering its Carter Hall Multi-Purpose Room for the clinics.

“We are very grateful that KVCC is giving Inland, and our community, the support that is needed for these clinics,” Vieira said. “They have long been our partner in health care, training many of our staff who work at the hospital and our medical practices.”

KVCC President Richard Hopper said KVCC is pleased to be part of the solution to the pandemic in the region.

“Besides providing the space, we are looking at how our students and faculty can play a role in helping at future vaccination clinics for second-round doses and the expansion of Northern Light’s program,” Hopper said in the release. “Northern Light has been, and continues to be, a trusted partner of KVCC.”

Ray and Connie Winship of Waterville were among the first people to be vaccinated at Tuesday’s clinic. They received the Moderna vaccine, they said.

The couple said later Tuesday in a telephone interview the process was quick and easy. They said they had to wait about 10 minutes to get vaccinated. Ray Winship, 73, said the couple made appointments last week for vaccinations after he received an email from Northern Light Inland Hospital, where his doctor is located, notifying him of the clinics.

Registered nurse Jess Addy, right, administers a first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine Tuesday to Connie Winship, 72, of Waterville at a clinic set up by Northern Light Inland Hospital at Kennebec Valley Community College in Fairfield. Northern Light Inland Hospital photo

Connie Winship, 72, said when they arrived on the KVCC campus, they were directed to the building where the vaccination clinic is located. Once there, their temperatures were taken and they were asked questions related to COVID-19. They were vaccinated in a room away from others, and they said the shots were painless. Afterward, they were required to stay for about 20 minutes.

“It was very well done,” Connie Winship said. “It took no time at all.”

The Winships, who are retired teachers, said they have appointments for their second shots in four weeks. They believe they will be considered 95% immune from COVID-19 a week or two after that.

They said they are happy to have been vaccinated, especially because they have children in Connecticut, Georgia and Virginia and have been unable to travel. The Winships are eager to see their children and grandchildren.

“Our lives have been turned upside down,” Connie Winship said. “We have not seen our family since a year and a half ago. We just had our 51st anniversary. Our son was scheduled to be married during that time and our 10-year-old granddaughter has not been in real school. It has affected how we relate to friends. We have not entertained people inside our house since March.”

Ray and Connie Winship, retired teachers from Waterville, give thumbs-up Tuesday after receiving their first dose of COVID-19 vaccine at a clinic set up be Northern Light Inland Hospital at Kennebec Valley Community College in Fairfield. Northern Light Inland Hospital photo

The Winships said they have found other ways to socialize, such as gathering outside and having everyone bring their own food. They also have been attending church via the Zoom videoconferencing platform.

“It’s incredible how much we owe Zoom and FaceTime,” Ray Winship said.

VACCINE REGISTRATION

People must preregister to be vaccinated at the community clinics. Due to high demand and logistics related to handling the vaccines, walk-in patients cannot be accommodated, according to Northern Light officials. Community members should not show up at the KVCC site without an appointment, they said.

While the registration slots for Inland Hospital’s clinics at KVCC this week are all full, more clinics will be added when vaccine becomes available. Each week, after receiving their vaccine allotment from the Maine Center for Disease Control & Prevention, Inland will open new clinics at KVCC. The hope is to hold at least one clinic a week, but that will depend on vaccine availability.

Those wanting to register should go to covid.northernlighthealth.org/publicvaccine. Those who do not have internet access can call 207-204-8551 to reach the vaccine registration and information line. Due to demand and low vaccine supply, slots are few and filling up very quickly, officials said.

REGISTRATION PREPARATION

Those wanting to register by telephone or online are asked to have their Social Security number, insurance or Medicare information and the name and telephone number for an emergency contact person.

The vaccine is free, but a small charge to cover the cost of administration will be billed to patients’ insurance. Community clinics are only for those 70 or older and for community health care workers, in accordance with Maine CDC guidance.

Community members are encouraged to visit covid.northernlighthealth.org/publicvaccine each Monday to learn about clinics scheduled for the week, or they can visit the Maine CDC website — www.Maine.gov — to see all vaccination sites across the state and open appointment slots.

Inland officials ask that people not call their primary care office or the hospital to register. The two options for registering now are on the hospital’s website or through the special registration telephone line.

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