On Sunday at 5 p.m., registration opened on CampusGroups for students to receive their first dose of the Pfizer vaccine at Mid Coast Hospital’s clinic at the Brunswick Recreation Center beginning Wednesday. Despite website glitches and slowdowns, according to COVID-19 Resource Coordinator Mike Ranen, over 900 students were registered for an appointment within half an hour.
“I know there was incredible demand, and I think it was hard to get an appointment on the first day,” Ranen said in a Zoom interview with the Orient. “I think everyone tried to get an appointment on the first day.”
The College announced on April 2 that Mid Coast Hospital would set aside 50 vaccines a day on Monday through Saturday for Bowdoin students in Maine, regardless of whether they were living in residence or not. The College is also providing transportation to the clinic for students living on campus or off campus in residence who do not have access to cars.
Due to the limited amount of vaccines allocated each day, many students anticipated the immediate demand and prepared to sign up as soon as slots opened.
“All my roommates and I got in our common room, opened up the tab and we just all refreshed right at [5 p.m.],” Penelope Mack ’22 said in a phone interview with the Orient. “Luckily, I figured out that the events were all posted for each specific day, so because I had kind of given myself the prep time I think it was pretty straightforward.”
Mack was able to schedule an appointment for Thursday evening. She expressed her appreciation for the College’s partnership with Mid Coast Hospital, which allowed students to bypass the often arduous process for vaccine sign-up through external providers.
“It was so exciting to hear that this was all going to be done through the College, because my mom is a teacher in Massachusetts and I had spent so long trying to find her an appointment,” Mack said. “It was so complex working through all the different sites, and the state wasn’t super helpful, so I was kind of anticipating having to do that myself and dreading it. It was really nice to find out that the College was just going to facilitate it.”
Other students, however, did not have the same luck trying to schedule an early appointment through CampusGroups. Rachel Klein ’24, who is living with friends in Portland, ultimately decided to schedule an appointment independently.
“We had a bit of a difficult time on CampusGroups,” Klein said in a phone interview with the Orient. “The sign-up process was really chaotic, and we couldn’t really get a vaccination earlier … When April 7 rolled around and vaccination started to open up [for all age groups in] Maine, we signed up through there, [and] it just ended up being a lot quicker and a lot closer.”
Klein was able to get an appointment in Portland for April 15, a week earlier than her initial appointment scheduled through the College’s program. Regardless of whether students schedule their appointments at Mid Coast’s clinic or elsewhere, Ranen said he hoped that ensuring every student is fully vaccinated by the end of the semester will pave the way for a quicker return to normalcy.
“We’re not there yet, but every person who gets vaccinated helps us get to the end easier,” Ranen said. “There was a lot of excitement in the air [on the first day of vaccinations].”