Lisa Caswell, director of pharmacy at Redington-Fairview General Hospital in Skowhegan, draws the hospital’s first dose of the Moderna vaccine Dec. 23, 2020. Rich Abrahamson/Morning Sentinel file Buy this Photo

SKOWHEGAN — Phase 1B of vaccine rollout will soon be underway at Redington-Fairview General Hospital.

Lisa Caswell, director of pharmacy at Redington-Fairview General Hospital, said in a phone call Tuesday that the hospital had received 100 doses of the Moderna vaccine this week. Some of those doses will be administered to individuals from Phase 1A who have not yet received the vaccine. She said about 80 doses are available this week for those in the next phase, 1B.

This allocation of 80 doses is less than what was expected, she said.

“We have enough to start 1B clinics with hopes that we get more next week and then full speed ahead,” Caswell said.

The news comes as the Maine Center for Disease Control & Prevention reported 23 new deaths Tuesday among individuals with COVID-19 and 417 additional cases. According to the Portland Press Herald, more than 85% of  the 618 deaths from COVID-19 in Maine were people aged 70 or older.

Clinics for those with appointments at Redington-Fairview General Hospital will begin on Thursday at an off-site location at 98 North Ave. Those receiving the first doses this week live within the immediate area, Caswell said.

“It’s important people know if they do not have an appointment they not show up because they will not be allowed inside,” Caswell said. “We’re also encouraging those who do have an appointment to come at their scheduled time, not early.”

She added that when she last checked a few days ago, more than 3,000 people have contacted the hospital to sign up for their vaccine. Of those, 2,000 are those over 70.

Patients interested in being added to the waitlist can access the preregistration form on the hospital’s website or through a hotline number. An email account is not required for either. New on Tuesday, those who have registered can check the status of their registration.

“We’re finding that a lot of emails are going to spam filters,” Caswell said. “If they can’t register online, they can leave a message on our hotline, and they will be added to another list.”

She added that both the registration list from online and those who call in are both looked at evenly when setting up clinics.

“We’re trying to divide that up equitably,” Caswell said. “It’s been fun calling people to schedule because they’re very excited.”

In the coming weeks, up to 700 people will have been inoculated under phase 1A, Caswell has said.

Distribution of the Moderna vaccine at Redington-Fairview General Hospital began on Dec. 23, when pharmacists, nurses and staff from the medical offices were able to receive the hospital’s first doses under phase 1A. The hospital’s first shipment in the first phase included 500 doses, which was also offered to other health care employees in the community, including dentists and mental health workers.

The vaccine was developed by Moderna Inc. and approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration a week after states received their first shipments of the Pfizer Inc. vaccine. The Moderna vaccine requires a second dose of the same vaccine at least 28 days after the initial dose.

As the hospital continues to receive doses in the coming weeks, a small supply will be set aside for those in Phase 1A who want the vaccine.

“We want to make sure if there are still 1A providers that we had on our list can get it,” Caswell said. “We try to balance it a little. It turned out that a lot of providers that we had on our list found it elsewhere, and it looks like we’re going to be able to increase the amount we can offer 1B. We just ask people to be patient.”

For those without computer access, she said that patients can call the hospital’s switchboard number at 474-5121, which will connect them to the appropriate hotline to add their name to the waiting list.

“I worry about the people who don’t have access to a computer not being able to get the vaccine, and we want to make sure that’s not true here,” Caswell said.

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