BANGOR, Maine — An H1N1 vaccine clinic on Union Street on Tuesday drew a busy crowd of about 200 mostly elderly people, surprising staff and necessitating a brief delay while supplies of vaccine were replenished from the pharmacy at Eastern Maine Medical Center.
“We didn’t really expect that many,” admitted Karen Clements, patient care coordinator at EMMC, which sponsored the clinic at the Eastern Maine Health Care Mall. Clements said a small notice in the Bangor Daily News and a public service announcement on a radio station seemed to have had the desired effect of drawing a crowd.
“We got a lot of older patients, which I was really glad to see,” she said. But people of all ages took advantage of the free clinic, she said.
In the midmorning, there was a wait of about one hour to get a vaccination, with the small waiting area filled and people standing in the hallway outside. For the most part the process went quickly and smoothly, Clements said.
The elderly are generally susceptible to complications from influenza, but they were not identified as a high-priority population by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention during the early stages of the vaccine campaign when supplies nationwide were limited. The CDC instead aimed to vaccinate pregnant women, young children and health care workers with the first available doses.
Now states, including Maine, are receiving abundant supplies, Clements said, so anyone who wants the vaccine can get it. Although new cases of H1N1 flu are declining in Maine and nationwide, public health experts continue to encourage people to get the vaccine, since a resurgence is widely expected in the spring.
The EMMC clinic will be open again from 8 a.m. until 4 p.m. today. Next week, it will be open from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday, Dec. 28, Tuesday, Dec. 29, and Wednesday, Dec. 30.
Clements said if demand remains brisk she will add more staff next week. She said there are plenty of doses of both the injectable and nasal spray forms of vaccine. There is no charge to get an H1N1 vaccine at the EMMC clinics.