Augusta firefighter and paramedic Jim Baldwin administer the second dose of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine to a volunteer first responder Feb. 24 at the Hartford Fire Station in Augusta. Andy Molloy/Kennebec Journal file Buy this Photo

AUGUSTA — In their first public COVID-19 vaccination clinic, Augusta firefighters expect to administer 180 shots of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine Saturday — to those 60 or older — at Cony High School.

A team of firefighters and emergency medical technicians is set to give the shots — at no charge — from noon to 3 p.m. at the food court at Cony at 60 Pierce Drive.

Those wishing to get the vaccine at the vaccination clinic must register in advance at app.blockitnow.com/consumer/maine-ems.

Those with questions or who are unable to register online should contact the Fire Department at 207-620-8164.

Deputy Fire Chief Steve Leach said people should not call Cony High School, which is the location of the clinic but has no role in its operation or scheduling.

The Fire Department plans to have additional public vaccination clinics on other Saturdays if vaccines are available.

“We’ve got 180 doses we can do, and then that’s it. So it’s first come, first served,” said Leach, who is overseeing the Fire Department’s vaccination efforts. “And as long as we have a vaccine supply, we anticipate doing them on Saturdays at Cony. But we don’t have a guarantee we’ll have vaccines next week, so we’re not scheduling them yet.

“People should watch our website. We’ll make sure it gets posted on Facebook and on the city website as soon as we get confirmation of vaccine. I put in a request for 300 doses for next week, but I’m not sure we’ll get it.”

Under state guidelines, anyone 60 or older is now eligible to receive the vaccine.

Leach said while there is no cost to receive the shot, patients who have insurance should bring their insurance card so the city can be reimbursed for the cost of the vaccination. Federal funds are expected to cover the cost of the vaccine for those without insurance.

The clinic is separate from ongoing vaccination efforts at a clinic being run by MaineGeneral Health at the Augusta Civic Center, which opened Feb. 17.

“We’ve got the ability and we know people are waiting to get their shots, so we wanted to make another resource available so more people can get the vaccine,” Leach said of opening a second vaccination clinic in Augusta. “We’re trying to get as many people vaccinated as we can.”

Leach and Joy McKenna, a spokesperson for MaineGeneral, said the vaccines for those two sites come from separate allotments.

“We are all in this together to provide vaccines to all who want them,” McKenna said.

She said by the end of Tuesday’s clinic, MaineGeneral will have administered more than 10,000 doses, including about 8,400 at the Augusta Civic Center and the rest at clinics at the Alfond Center for Health.

The Johnson & Johnson vaccination that is to be administered Saturday at Cony only requires one dose, unlike the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines, which require two doses. The Civic Center has been administering the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines.

Augusta firefighter and paramedic Jeff Dunn, left, receives a COVID-19 vaccination from co-worker Patrick Wynne on Dec. 31, 2020, at the Hartford Fire Station in Augusta. Joe Phelan/Kennebec Journal file Buy this Photo

Maine officials seek to vaccinate as many people as possible. State data shows that as of Monday, 323,049 Mainers — 24% of the state’s population — had received at least the first dose of a vaccine.

Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic last March, Maine has recorded 47,388 positive cases of COVID-19, an increase of 189 from Monday to Tuesday, and 725 deaths, according to Dr. Nirav Shah, director of the Maine Center for Disease Control & Prevention.

Shah said the number of vaccines administered statewide was not available Tuesday because the system Maine uses to track that data had an outage Monday night. He said the number of vaccinations administered or ordered are not affected by the outage.

Shah said federal officials have indicated the number of vaccines Maine and other states are expected to receive next week are not expected to change from last week.

However, he said, the vaccines coming to states is expected to increase significantly later this month or in early April.

Shah said most vaccination site organizers in Maine have said they could administer more shots, if available.

“Existing sites, almost uniformly, have indicated they could be doing more if only they had more shots to give,” Shah said Tuesday.

McKenna said the number of vaccines MaineGeneral provides each week depends on the amount received. She said that number has been increasing.

MaineGeneral is scheduled this week to administer more than 3,000 doses, up from 2,583 last week. Next week, MaineGeneral officials hope to provide 4,500 doses.

To register for the Civic Center vaccination site, residents must fill out an online form at mainegeneral.org/covid or call 1-866-968-8219.

MaineGeneral is taking pre-registrations from Maine residents 60 or older or from those of any age who work at schools from prekindergarten through grade 12, or that provide Head Start or Early Head Start.

Licensed child care providers of any age and 1A community health workers are also eligible to receive the vaccine.

Maine is seeing a spike in cases in Kennebec County, where there are now 2.1 cases per 10,000 people, based on a seven-day average. That represents a 63% increase over the past week, according to the state CDC.

Shah said the spike in Kennebec County is concerning. He warned the nationwide trend of declining COVID-19 cases is starting to stall, and the number of cases is increasing in some parts of the world.

He advised Mainers that “COVID-19 is very much still with us, even though we’re making notable progress” with vaccination efforts, so everyone should continue adhering to best practices, including wearing masks and social distancing.

Shah said as more vaccine becomes available, Maine will look to activate more “channels” to get residents vaccinated.

“It’s going to be a dial we keep turning up,” Shah said. “As we do, shots will be easier to find.”

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