PORTLAND, Maine — If you haven't been vaccinated yet, there's an opportunity for you to do so on Thursday at a baseball game.
The Portland Sea Dogs are partnering with Northern Light Mercy Hospital from 5 to 7 p.m. during their Thursday, June 10 game for a free COVID-19 vaccination clinic. Health officials will be administering the one-dose Johnson and Johnson vaccine, and anyone is welcome to come in to get a shot. Afterward, people will be asked to wait 15 to 20 minutes for observation in the picnic area.
Chris Cameron, vice president of the Sea Dogs, says the goal of this clinic is to bring vaccines to where the people are -- and provide some incentives. People who get vaccinated at Thursday's game will receive a voucher for a hot dog, water, and Sea Dog biscuit. They will also get a free ticket to a future game that can be used the day of the clinic if wanted.
Cameron says the Sea Dogs' goal is to help keep the community (and their own business) healthy.
"Obviously, losing an entire season last year hurt us tremendously, so the more people we can get in the seats this year, the better," Cameron said. "That's going to help us out, and obviously, we want to be a long-term, permanent fixture here in the city of Portland -- and we have tremendous support from the community and hope to see that continue."
The Sea Dogs have been partnering with Northern Light Mercy Hospital throughout the pandemic, launching a mass vaccination site at the Portland Expo at the beginning of March. As demand for vaccinations has started to slow down, health officials are looking for different ways to reach people, which is why a game at Hadlock Field was enticing.
Melissa Skahan, the vice president of mission integration at the hospital, says smaller clinics give people a lot of options when it comes to how and where they're getting vaccinated -- and they may make some feel more comfortable. She says her team has enough supplies to vaccinate 200 people at Thursday's game, and they're hoping to meet that goal since Hadlock Field can fit a few thousand people per game at full capacity. This is the hospital's largest targeted clinic yet.
"What I see every day is people choosing to get vaccinated, and so I'm going to remain in that place of continuous hope," Skaha said about increasing the vaccination rate in Maine. "Every offering that the healthcare community provides, you will get another person. You know, every vaccine counts because when you look at hospitalization rates, they are unvaccinated people."
Thursday's game is against the New Hampshire Fisher Cats. Both the Sea Dogs and Northern Light Mercy Hospital say they would like to try to schedule another clinic together in the future.