Volunteer Rick Wilson outside the Augusta Civic Center on Thursday during MaineGeneral’s last COVID-19 mass vaccination clinic. Joe Phelan/Kennebec Journal

AUGUSTA — MaineGeneral Health discontinued their COVID-19 mass vaccination clinic at the Augusta Civic Center at the end of the day Thursday due to a decline in demand, according to MaineGeneral spokesperson Joy McKenna.

“With the decline in numbers we have seen over the past weeks — even with walk-in hours — it felt the time was right to end the clinic,” she said, adding that they are currently working to distribute the vaccine to communities in need by working with camps, schools and businesses, as well as setting up pop-up clinics in smaller communities.

McKenna said MaineGeneral has been committed to keeping the mass vaccination clinic open as long as there was enough demand and that they did not discontinue it without a plan.

Beginning July 1, she said all MaineGeneral primary care and pediatric practices are offering vaccinations by appointment, and that anyone interested does not need to be a patient of MaineGeneral to receive the vaccine.

The clinic first opened on Feb. 17, and provided more than 1,300 doses just within the first week. The clinic’s peak was in March, when a little less than 6,000 doses were administered during the course of a single week.

The number of vaccines administered, however, began to decline in the coming months. In mid-April, 1,500 doses were provided in a week. And in mid-June, they used 182 doses in one week. Last week, McKenna said 103 doses were administered.

This mirrors the state’s overall downward trend of doses administered. In April, 435,241 vaccines were administered statewide. In May, 241,681 vaccines were administered. And in June only 90,980 vaccines were administered.

Because of this downward trend, the number of vaccine stations at the clinic gradually reduced. Initially MaineGeneral staffed seven vaccination stations per clinic, this was moved down to four in early June, and by July 1 only two stations were staffed.

Throughout the past five months, 140 internal team members were involved in the vaccination clinic, some in regular roles and others picking up shifts as vaccinators or coordinators. Additionally, 80 were hired to work the clinics, with 14 being offered permanent positions.

Also, 127 people volunteered their time to assist with vaccinations. Among them is Rick Wilson, 65, of Readfield who said he was inspired to help out after receiving his shot at the Cross Insurance Center in Bangor.

“I was so impressed with the way they used volunteers to get everyone herded through the lines, and I thought to myself, I could do the same thing once I’m fully vaccinated,” he said. “So I waited two weeks after my second shot, called MaineGeneral, and I’ve been doing it ever since.”

Wilson, who began volunteering in April, said this is the first time he has done volunteer work.

Many in the community know Wilson as the former principal of Manchester Elementary School, a position he had for 28 years. He said it was fun to see former students and parents of students during his time at the clinic.

Wilson said he’d often see 300 to 350 people come through during a three-hour shift.

“There was a lot of excitement,” he said. “A lot of people were just relieved to be there. I remember one lady said ‘It’s about time!’ early on when it was hard to get appointments.

“Then when kids could come through, it was fun to watch their reactions. One kid said ‘I can play sports now and go to camp,'” Wilson added. “Even though they’re young, they’re thinking about the future implications of this.”

Members of the Maine Air National Guard, Maine Army National Guard and employees of MaineGeneral assist people in receiving a COVID-19 vaccine Feb. 24 at the Augusta Civic Center. The clinic closed Thursday. Andy Molloy/Kennebec Journal file

He said he was impressed with the MaineGeneral staff’s professionalism and dedication of the volunteers. He said the National Guard in particular was wonderful, and that the clinic could not have happened without the their help.

“I had an opportunity to be close to the vaccinators themselves,” Wilson said, “and they were very nurturing and respectful. The whole process was just done with a lot of professionalism.”

Altogether, volunteers have spent 1,462 hours working at the mass vaccination clinic.

Since setting up the clinic in February, McKenna said the health system has seen lower case rates and hospitalizations overall. She said the vaccine has played a key role in keeping the community healthy.

“We know people may have questions about the vaccine,” McKenna said, “and anyone who has concerns should talk about their individual situation with their primary care physician.”

According to the state’s vaccination data, 1,532,347 doses have been administered in Maine as of June, with 66.41% of the population receiving their final dose. In Kennebec County, a total of 126,256 doses have been administered, with 52.62% of the county’s population receiving the final dose. Out of the doses administered in Kennebec County, 49.78% were Moderna, 45.13% were Pfizer, and 5.07% of the doses administered were from Johnson & Johnson.

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