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Rollout to public begins

Hospital starts administering COVID-19 vaccine

By Kendra Caruso | Jan 28, 2021
Courtesy of: Jenifer Harris Muriel Willman gets a coronavirus shot at Waldo County General Hospital Jan. 27.

Belfast — Waldo County General Hospital administered 240 coronavirus vaccinations Jan. 27 during its first day giving the shots to members of the public.

Phase 1b of the state's two-phase plan to roll out vaccines has begun. The state’s guidelines limit those who qualify for the vaccine to health care workers and members of the public over the age of 70 right now.

Pen Bay Medical Center and Waldo County General Hospital received 948 doses from the state and will administer them through Jan. 30, according to Dr. Cheryl Liechty, an internal medicine physician with a specialty in infectious diseases. Another 1,000 doses will be delivered to the hospitals next week.

She said 1,527 vaccinations have been administered to staff between both the hospitals since Dec. 23, 2020, and 95% of providers have received the vaccine. The facilities will receive 500 more doses for staff and health care workers.

“We, as health care providers, appreciate the privilege we have of getting this vaccine first,” she said. “We have made good use of that privilege, and we are really trying to lead by example.”

When Liechty, who has worked at Pen Bay for 16 years, received her first shot she felt arm pain and some fatigue. When she got the second shot, she said, she felt flu-like symptoms without a cough, but they went away after 24 hours, which is a sign that her body was mounting a response to the vaccine, she said. Reactions like arm soreness at the injection site, fever, body aches and fatigue are common and usually resolve within 48 hours after getting the shot.

None of the staff in either hospital have had a severe reaction to the vaccine where they needed to be hospitalized, she said. She thinks the vaccine rollouts are going well at the facilities.

The hospitals first received Moderna vaccines, but recently have started receiving Pfizer vaccines, which have to be stored at strict refrigeration temperatures, she said. The hospitals are prepared to take whichever brand of vaccine the state can give them.

The vaccines are over 90% effective, Liechty said, and are working better than expected. She would urge people to get their information about the vaccines from reputable sources like the U.S. Centers for I Disease Control and Prevention or the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention.

Knowledge about the vaccine is power, she said. She said people should not rely on information from Facebook, where misinformation is commonly circulated.

“The place to derive that knowledge is not social media,” she said. “… But I think learning about the vaccines is really important and learning about the science on them from reputable sources is really, really important.”

The state received its first shipment of over 12,000 vaccines in mid-December and sent them to hospitals dealing with COVID-19 patients to vaccinate their staff.

The next part of phase one, phase 1c, will give vaccine priority to other critical frontline workers starting in May. Phase two will open up vaccinations to all other members of the public starting in June. People who fall under phase two are allowed to preregister for vaccinations now.

For more information about vaccines and how to register for one, call 877-780-7545.

The coronavirus vaccine screening and registration area at Waldo County General Hospital Jan. 27 for patients receiving the vaccine. (Photo by: Jenifer Harris)
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