Northern Light Health will close its COVID-19 testing site by Bangor International Airport after Wednesday and move its main vaccination center due to rising vaccination rates and decreased demand for testing, the Brewer-based health system said Monday.
The drive-through testing site in the airport’s shuttle parking lot opened last October amid rising COVID-19 cases in Maine after a summer of relatively few infections. Yet with vaccination rates continuing to rise, fewer people are seeking COVID-19 tests, Northern Light officials said.
Northern Light will also relocate its vaccination clinic at its HealthCare Mall on Union Street from its health center to its pharmacy in the same building beginning on Thursday. The Union Street location became Northern Light’s primary vaccination site after the mass vaccination site at the Cross Insurance Center closed amid decreased demand.
The testing site’s closure and vaccine clinic’s relocation are signs that vaccinations work to prevent the spread of COVID-19, Eastern Maine Medical Center President Rand O’Leary said in a statement.
Nearly 70 percent of eligible Mainers (those ages 12 and up) have received one or both doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna COVID-19 vaccines or the one-shot Johnson and Johnson vaccine as of Sunday, according to the latest Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention data.
People can get COVID-19 after being fully vaccinated, though symptomatic COVID-19 is extremely unlikely. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently said that about 4,100 vaccinated people nationwide had been hospitalized or died in such “breakthrough” cases. More than 150 million Americans are fully vaccinated.
Maine has one of the highest vaccination rates in the country, though health experts continue to warn that some are holding out from getting the shot, including those in rural areas. Younger Mainers have also gotten it at lower rates, though that number appears to be rising: 48 percent of Mainers 12-30 had received at least one shot as of Sunday.
Northern Light is recommending different testing options for different types of patients. Symptomatic patients or those who have been exposed to someone with COVID-19 should contact their primary care doctor or visit at Northern Light’s Walk-In Care at 915 Union Street in Bangor.
It recommends that people getting tested before a medical procedure visit Northern Light Drawing Station at EMMC on State Street, Northern Light Health Center on Union Street or Northern Light Pharmacy, all in Bangor.
Those without symptoms or exposure are asked to also visit Northern Light Pharmacy on State Street.