Maine’s largest hospital system is now allowing patients to get the COVID-19 vaccine without an appointment in Farmington, and expects to allow walk-ups at other locations in the coming weeks as the state enters a new phase in its vaccination campaign.
MaineHealth’s vaccine clinic at Franklin Memorial Hospital began allowing walk-ins this week, and will continue to offer them next week between 8 a.m. and 11:30 a.m. for Maine residents aged 18 and older.
The switch to walk-up vaccines at the Somerset County hospital comes as a mobile vaccine clinic run jointly by the state and the federal government also began to allow patients to get vaccinated without an appointment in Windham this week. Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention Director Nirav Shah said Thursday that 280 walk-up patients were vaccinated at the clinic the previous day.
MaineHealth — which also operates clinics in Belfast, Boothbay Harbor, Brunswick, Norway, Rockland, Sanford, Scarborough and Westbrook — plans to make walk-up vaccinations possible at other locations in the coming weeks, a spokesperson said. It also began allowing patients to schedule vaccine appointments directly online as of Friday, rather than requiring them to preregister and wait to be contacted by a hospital representative.
Joan Boomsma, MaineHealth’s chief medical officer, said Friday that the goal was to make getting a vaccine “as easy as possible,” adding that it should take less than five minutes for patients to schedule a vaccine online.
MaineHealth has administered more than 280,000 vaccine doses, accounting for about 1 out of every 4 doses given in Maine so far. As of Friday, just shy of 650,000 Mainers had received at least one vaccine dose, accounting for about 57 percent of the state’s adult population.
Maine ranks near the top among U.S. states in terms of the share of its population vaccinated so far. But the rate of vaccinations dropped off this week after increasing at the beginning of April, with only 96,000 vaccines administered over the past week compared to more than 121,000 the week prior.