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Cross Insurance Center to open Tuesday as COVID-19 mass vaccination site

Organizers hope to vaccinate 900 people Tuesday and 900 more Thursday, and say the mass vaccination site will be open until every Mainer who wants a dose gets one.

BANGOR, Maine — The Cross Insurance Center in Bangor will open as a mass vaccination center on Tuesday. Those in charge told NEWS CENTER Maine it should take about 45 minutes for a person to walk in the door, get a vaccine and walk out.

Northern Light's doctor James Jarvis said 900 people are registered to get a vaccine on Tuesday and another 900 are registered for Thursday.

Despite the snowstorm heading to Maine, this vaccination site still plans to be up and running on Tuesday.

"We know this is Maine. Weather will happen, and so we don't want to get into the habit of having to re-schedule clinic after clinic...we know at some point we will be doing this daily, so pushing it down the line is just not an option for us," Jarvis said.

Jarvis said if you have an appointment scheduled for Tuesday and need to cancel it, don't worry, that vaccine will still be assigned to you. It is ideal that you call or check Northern Light's vaccination website to reschedule your dose for this Thursday instead, but Jarvis recommends you show up if you are able to.

"If we do need to have some people that can't make it on Tuesday, move them to Thursday...we will have that capability as I said. We can easily put through over a thousand people a day here right now and can easily scale up to 2,000 people a day so we can accommodate that. Again, if you have the ability to come and do so safely, we still encourage people to come tomorrow," said Jarvis.

In an effort to get people vaccinated faster and more efficiently, Northern Light Health will offer community vaccinations for Mainers ages 70 and over at the Cross Insurance Center.

The site will begin with a soft launch Tuesday, Feb. 2. The goal is to vaccinate 900 people on Tuesday and an additional 900 people on Thursday to start. The site will include more than 40 fully staffed vaccination stations when it is operating at full capacity.

Northern Light Health started vaccinating people 70 and over at various smaller vaccination sites across the state on Jan. 23 as a temporary solution while officials worked to establish the Cross Insurance Center site.

“The smaller sites were a good stop-gap measure to get shots into people’s arms as quickly as possible to stop the spread of this deadly virus,” Matt Marston, PharmD, associate vice president, Northern Light Pharmacy, said in a news release. “As vaccine shipments increase in the coming weeks and months, the Cross Insurance Center site will allow Northern Light Health to be well-positioned to assist in the statewide vaccination effort.”

Establishing a mass vaccination site during an unprecedented global pandemic has required substantial planning and coordination within the Northern Light Health system, as well as with state and local governments. 

As with the smaller sites, people will need to register ahead of time to receive a vaccination appointment. Community members over the age of 70 can currently register either online or through the Northern Light Health system's call center hotline at 207-204-8551.

RELATED: Where can you get the COVID-19 vaccine in Maine: CDC announces Maine vaccination sites

New appointments are released each Monday but can be updated throughout the week if more vaccine is available. 

"We remind people to show up no more than 10 minutes prior to their scheduled time to reduce the potential for long lines outside the facility, especially during these colder winter months," the Northern Light Health system said in a news release. "We are currently experiencing extremely high volume to both our registration website and call center. We thank the community in advance for their patience as we work to get all community members registered for vaccinations in an efficient and effective manner."

RELATED: Everything you need to know about the COVID-19 vaccine rollout in Maine

The Cross Insurance Center is the second mass vaccination site announced in the state. On Tuesday, the Scarborough Town Council voted unanimously to approve a mass gathering permit for a mass vaccination site at the former Scarborough Downs, which will open Wednesday, Feb. 3. 

The Scarborough Downs site will start off by having five vaccinators on site, who will see six patients per hour. The plan is to eventually have more than 100 MaineHealth employees and volunteers on-hand to be able to vaccinate at least 1,000 people per day.  

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