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Maine health care workers receive second dose of COVID-19 vaccine

65 health care workers at Central Maine Healthcare received the second dose Wednesday.

LEWISTON, Maine — Hundreds of health care workers across the state received the second dose of the COVID-19 vaccine Wednesday.

"This is the key to getting together with your family again and having them in your arms," System Chief for Hospital Medicine at Central Maine Healthcare, Dr. Claudia Greyer, said.

Dr. Claudia Greyer is one of 65 health care workers at Central Maine Healthcare who received the second dose of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine Wednesday.

"We can continue doing this work that we've been doing. Taking care of people without the fear of getting sick and bringing it home to our families and bringing it to our communities," Dr. Greyer said.

She along with Dr. Sheldon Stevenson said it's been a long time coming.

"It's been extremely challenging. We've had to change the way we do things. There are a lot of logistical challenges. Then there is also all the health concerns that we have for taking care of these people and getting exposed ourselves," System Chief of Emergency Medicine at Central Maine Healthcare, Dr. Sheldon Stevenson, said.

Northern Light Health also started administering the second vaccine to its employees Wednesday. Dr. James Jarvis said 50 percent of staff have been vaccinated so far.

"Am I surprised? Yes, a little bit because I really thought we would be talking about the spring. It's wonderful that we beat that deadline of getting the vaccine into arms by the end of 2020. Now the challenge is going to be to try and get enough vaccine into people's arms in 2021," Dr. Jarvis said.

Dr. Jarvis said Northern Light is in the process of planning how to do large scale vaccinations, to be ready when the vaccine is available to the public.

"We are looking at many ways. One, is how do we replicate the process we have done within our facilities? Which we feel has been extremely efficient getting people through a line and getting a vaccine in their arm and doing so safely," Dr. Jarvis said.

Both he and other doctors at Central Maine Healthcare said while the vaccine helps, it is not the end of the pandemic, and people should not let their guard down.