Denise Needham, the senior director of operations at Waldo County General Hospital, was happy that the first day of the vaccine clinic in Belfast was a success. "You try to anticipate everything," she said Wednesday. "It just could not have gone better." Credit: Abigail Curtis / BDN

BELFAST, Maine — Many in Waldo County hoped Wednesday would mark a turning point for the pandemic, as 240 people received their first shots at MaineHealth’s new COVID-19 vaccine clinic in Belfast.

The vaccines are key to returning to a more normal life.

“It’s a huge day. We’re really excited about it,” E.B. Brakewood of Lincolnville, who was accompanying his 88-year-old mother into the clinic, said. “Mom’s a little nervous, but she’s being brave. It’s a huge relief to our whole family.”

Another 240 people are expected to be vaccinated on Thursday at the clinic, which is operating in the former MBNA complex off U.S 3.

About 240 people were slated to receive their first shots of the COVID-19 vaccine on Wednesday at the new Belfast vaccine clinic. Credit: Abigail Curtis / BDN

“The energy is just phenomenal in there today,” Denise Needham, the Waldo County General Hospital senior director of operations, said. “We worked so hard. This has been months in the making. You try to anticipate everything, and learn from others, and it just could not have gone better.”

People must have an appointment to receive the vaccine at the clinic. Maine residents can secure their place in line for the vaccine through the MaineHealth system by calling 1-877-780-7545.

“People sometimes expect a call back right away, but it might not be right away,” said Needham, who encouraged people to be patient.

Wait times might be long for the vaccine, she said, because demand is outpacing supplies across the state.

Maine is in Phase 1B of its vaccine rollout — people 70 and older are eligible to receive shots.

The new COVID-19 vaccine clinic in Belfast, which is open to people by appointment only, is located in an unused building in the former MBNA complex.  Credit: Abigail Curtis / BDN

Judith Simpson and Howard Green, both of Belfast, received their first round of two shots Wednesday at their local clinic.

“It’s easy and the people are wonderful,” Simpson said.

Medicaid, Medicare and most commercial insurance plans will cover the cost of the vaccine with no out-of-pocket costs.

In addition to the new clinic in Belfast, MaineHealth vaccine clinics are located in Brunswick, Boothbay, Farmington, Norway, Rockport, Sanford and Westbrook.

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