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Mass vaccination clinic at Scarborough Downs opens Wednesday

The high-volume vaccine clinic is operated by MaineHealth, and officials say it will be able to vaccinate 2,000 per day when vaccines are more readily available.

SCARBOROUGH, Maine — On Wednesday, Maine's second mass vaccination clinic opened. MaineHealth is operating the high-volume vaccine clinic taking place at the former Scarborough Downs harness racing track. 

Officials with MaineHealth say the 30,000-square-foot clinic is expected to have the capacity to vaccinate up to 2,000 people a day, once it is fully up and running and vaccine supply increases. 

"This is a perfect place, it's huge. It's a 35,000 square-foot room. It's well ventilated, easy to set up a number of different vaccine stations, registration, waiting areas. It really met all of our needs," MaineHealth Chief Health Improvement Officer Dr. Dora Mills said. 

Robyn Goshorn, 73, of South Portland received the first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine at the mass vaccination clinic Wednesday morning.

Credit: Derek Davis/Portland Press Herald via AP
Robyn Goshorn, 73, of South Portland, Maine gets the first dose of COVID-19 vaccine from pharmacist Andrea Lai at a mass vaccination clinic at the former Scarborough Downs Racetrack, Wednesday, Feb. 3, 2021, in Scarborough, Maine. Robyn and his wife Alice Goshorn, 79, were the first two people to get vaccine at the newly opened clinic.

“This clinic will make a big difference in MaineHealth’s efforts to vaccinate community members as quickly and safely as possible,” MaineHealth CEO Bill Caron said in a release. “We are so grateful to Crossroads Holdings, their partners as well as to members of the business community, who have stepped up to volunteer at the clinic alongside members of the MaineHealth care team.”

The Scarborough Downs COVID-19 vaccination clinic will operate Monday through Friday 7 a.m. – 7 p.m. to start. MaineHealth will add Saturday hours as more vaccine becomes available from the state.

“High volume vaccine clinics are a critical part of our effort to get shots into the arms of as many Maine people as quickly, efficiently and equitably as possible. On behalf of Maine people, I thank MaineHealth, Crossroads Holdings, the Town of Scarborough, State of Maine staff and the countless volunteers for their work to stand up this facility and for their partnership with the State to get people vaccinated,” Gov. Janet Mills said in a statement. “This site exemplifies how Maine has come together to fight the pandemic and my Administration looks forward to supporting it as we continue to partner with health care providers and others to stand up more vaccine clinics of all sizes in the coming weeks. These sites, coupled with an increase in supply of vaccine from the Federal government, are crucial to protecting the health of Maine people and putting a lid on this virus so we can get back to normal.” 

The Scarborough Downs clinic is scheduled to operate for the next 6 months, with the potential to operate longer, MaineHealth says. 

Vaccines are available by appointment only. MaineHealth is currently offering vaccine appointments at clinics across the state to people 70 and older in accordance with guidelines from the Maine CDC. Patients seeking a vaccination can pre-register by calling the MaineHealth COVID-19 Vaccine Assistant at 1-877-780-7545. More information about how to get a vaccine through MaineHealth is available on the MaineHealth website.

RELATED: How to schedule an appointment to get the COVID-19 vaccine in Maine

In just 15 days, Crossroads Holdings, the Scarborough-based company that is redeveloping 500-plus acres at Scarborough Downs, worked with 41 companies to transform the grandstand into this vaccine clinic. Crossroad Holdings has also donated the use of the facility for this vaccination clinic.

The clinic is only expected to vaccinate around 400 around Wednesday according to Dr. Mills. She says that number will rise throughout the week, and believes it will be possible to vaccinate 2,000 each day when COVID-19 vaccines are more readily available. 

"This is really an issue of the manufacturers ramping up production so that there will be enough vaccine across the country, and the federal government can distribute that vaccine to every state," Dr. Mills said. "We look forward to that day, we hope it's not too far away. Because we want to vaccinate everyone who wants to get a vaccine. And we know people are desperate, there are many people very desperate to get vaccinated."