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'Just a matter of luck': Maine Walmart, Sam's Club stores open for COVID-19 vaccinations

The retail giant opened 24 locations across the state Friday with the goal of administering upwards of 4,800 doses a week.

SCARBOROUGH, Maine — Walmart and Sam's Club stores opened vaccine sites in 24 locations across Maine Friday.

Maine Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) Commissioner Jeanne Lambrew announced Tuesday that 24 Walmart and Sam's Club pharmacies in Maine will begin administering the COVID-19 vaccine through the U.S. Federal Retail Pharmacy Program.

Lambrew said more than 1,000 Walmart stores in 22 states are receiving federal vaccine allocations this week, separate from and on top of the allotment states receive each week, with an emphasis on underserved communities.

"There's this feeling of relief just washing over me," Sandy Asmussen told NEWS CENTER Maine after receiving her first shot Friday.

Asmussen made her appointment for the Walmart location in Falmouth, but she said she was among hundreds of people who experienced technical difficulties

Without any confirmation of her appointment, she had to go to the store to verify her request went through. Fortunately, it did. 

"It was just a matter of luck which is really frustrating for people of a certain age," Asmussen said.

NEWS CENTER Maine received several emails from viewers about issues signing up for the vaccine.

"The Walmart scheduling system is currently experiencing technical difficulties following a surge of appointments," Walmart said in a statement to our sister station, WTSP. "Our team is currently working to resolve the matter to have the scheduler back online as soon as possible."

RELATED: Walmart experiencing ‘technical difficulties’, customers unable to sign-up for COVID-19 vaccine online

RELATED: How to book COVID-19 vaccine appointments at Walmart, CVS, Walgreens

As of Friday, the online portal was fully-functioning, but appointments are limited in more populated areas. 

There are currently 24 participating locations statewide. The goal is to administer 4,400-4,800 doses a week, according to state health officials.

"I feel a little bit safe, more protected," Asmussen said. "I know there's a long way to go yet."

Only Mainers age 70 and older, as well as those in phase 1a are eligible for vaccination at these sites.

To schedule an appointment visit www.walmart.com/COVIDvaccine or www.samsclub.com/covid.

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