PORTLAND, Maine — Diner food and the coronavirus vaccine seem like an odd duo, but a partnership in Portland is making it happen. MaineHealth is offering targeted community-based vaccination clinics in the Portland area, beginning with two days at Becky’s Diner on Wednesday, June 2, and Thursday, June 3.
MaineHealth recently closed its largest clinic at the former Scarborough Downs and is still operating clinics in Westbrook and Sanford. The clinic at Becky's, located at 390 Commercial Street, is open to anyone 18 years and older, since it will be offering the single-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine.
There are also incentives. Anyone who gets vaccinated at Becky's will receive a $15 gift card to the diner. On Wednesday, the diner will donate $10 per vaccination to the Barbara Bush Children's Hospital. On Thursday, $10 per vaccination will go to the Travis Mills Foundation.
Health officials like Dr. Dora Mills, chief health improvement officer for MaineHealth, say this targeted approach is another way to bring vaccinations to the community with convenience and efficiency. She says she is thankful for businesses like Becky's that are willing to help.
"It means everything right now. We know that we are doing extremely well in Maine in terms of the number of people who are vaccinated, but we also know we have a ways to go. So, we got to where people are at, where people are gathered -- because there aren't a lot of gatherings right now," Mills said. "This is one place that is just great because people do come in here to get breakfast and lunch -- so we know we can get people who may not have been thinking about it yet."
For the general manager of Becky's, Zack Rand, partnering with MaineHealth is something he and his mother (the owner, Becky) were happy to do.
"I think they came to us because we see a large segment of the population -- all different walks of life come in here," Rand said. "I think trying to reach some of those segments of the population that maybe want a vaccine and haven't gotten one for whatever reason -- offering it up here at the diner and giving a few incentives, I think, is a great thing."
MaineHealth has also been offering clinics at area school districts, and said it plans to offer future community-based vaccination clinics with other partners. One of those includes the Portland House of Music at 25 Temple Street on July 7 and 12 from 8-11 p.m. That clinic will also be for people 18 years and older, as it will also be offering the Johnson & Johnson vaccine.
MaineHealth said information about its future community-based clinics in the Portland area and across the state of Maine will be shared here.