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'I got my shot!' Hannaford pharmacies administer 3,500 J&J vaccines in its first week

Hannaford is now offering COVID-19 vaccines at more than half of its pharmacies across Maine.

MAINE, Maine — Hannaford is now offering the COVID-19 vaccine to qualifying Mainers at 35 of its pharmacies across Maine.

The effort to connect seniors to coronavirus vaccines is ramping up with the addition of the popular New England supermarket chain, this past week administering 3,500 doses of the Johnson and Johnson vaccine.

"I went online, signed up on Wednesday morning, and here I am 48 hours later, I got my shot!" said Bangor resident James Wholly. "Just on the off-chance, I checked the Hannaford [vaccination website] to see if I could get it done sooner, and I could, so I did."

RELATED: Maine announces dedicated vaccine clinics for teachers and school staff age 60 and older

Wholly said he had better luck finding an available appointment at the Hannaford website than at the Cross Insurance Center in Bangor. 

"It's a one-shot deal. I'm vaccinated now. I don't need to come back, I feel great, I feel relieved!," said Wholly.

"Hannaford pharmacies are spread very widely across the footprint of the state, we have 57 pharmacies, so we are able to reach people and increase access to the vaccine," said Hannaford's pharmacy district manager in Maine, Terri Mclaughlin.

Hannaford supermarket stores in Maine are working with the Maine Department of Health and Human Services and with the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention, to keep administering covid vaccines as they become available.

RELATED: 35 Hannaford Pharmacies across Maine to begin administering Johnson & Johnson vaccine

"People can shop here and they can also get their vaccines with us, in a familiar environment!" said Mclaughlin.

Currently, 35 of  57 Maine Hannaford pharmacies are equipped to get any type of vaccine, the goal is to expand into all Maine Hannaford pharmacies as they train more pharmacists, get more PPE, appropriate coolers, and most importantly...the vaccines.

RELATED: Following Biden's lead, Mills allows 50,000 Maine educators to receive COVID-19 vaccine

Elisabeth Scholes drove three hours from Kittery to Old Town for the Johnson & Johnson vaccine.

Asked if it was worth the effort, Sholes said, "Of course! Especially when I found out it was the Johnson and Johnson so it's just one shot!" said Scholes.

"Even though it was 60 miles away from where I live...I was happy to drive!" said Beth Schiller from Waterville.

Hannaford got about 100 doses for each of its 35 pharmacies in this past and first vaccination week.

"It's so powerful to be part of the solution, and to be there for our communities and to provide this service that we've been waiting to actively take part in," said Mclaughlin.  

In preparation for vaccine administration, Hannaford purchased additional freezers, prepared pharmacies to receive the vaccine, provided additional training to pharmacists, pharmacy interns, and technicians, purchased more personal protective equipment, and developed a digital platform for people to schedule appointments.

Recently, Governor Mills announced that Maine residents age 60 and older are eligible for vaccination beginning March 3, 2021.

If you qualify to get a COVID-19 vaccine and would like to get it at one of the participating Hannaford locations, you need to secure an appointment online first.

Here is a link to where people can log in to get a vaccine appointment when slots become available.

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