The vaccine is working. That’s the message from Clackamas County health officials, as they respond to concerns and questions from vaccine-hesitant residents who want to make the best decisions for themselves and their families.
Officials point to a 46% drop in the number of new coronavirus infections the county has seen in the past two weeks as evidence that the vaccines are doing their job.
Fully vaccinated adults 65 or older are 94% less likely to be hospitalized with Covid-19, according to CDC data, and more than 286 million doses of the vaccine have been given to Americans under the most intense safety monitoring in U.S. history, with serious safety problems being extremely rare.
Yet, vaccine hesitancy remains a big challenge in Clackamas County, the smallest and most conservative of the three that comprise the Portland metro region — and the only one that has not yet crossed the all-important mark of 65% of the eligible population vaccinated.
Reaching that goal would put Clackamas County in the low-risk tier — the lowest and least restrictive level in the governor’s reopening matrix — with capacity limits and other restrictions on restaurants, gyms, theaters, venues and other businesses being greatly reduced.
“The fastest way to loosen restrictions on our local businesses is to get to the 65 percent vaccination rate,” Clackamas County officials said in an email update on May 28.
As of Friday, 214,173 Clackamas Countians — or about 61.2% of the eligible population (16 and older) — had gotten the shot. Officials say about 13,460 more will need to be immunized to hit 65%.
If current trends continue, Clackamas County could reach the milestone as early as next Friday — though the second week of June appears more likely.
Crossing that threshold by Tuesday, June 8 (when the county risk levels are set to be reevaluated) would be significant for two reasons.
It would put Clackamas County in “low risk” territory in time for Canby High School’s graduation on Friday, June 11, meaning the ceremony could be held as one event rather than being split in two.
It would also bode well for the momentous Clackamas County Fair Board meeting that week, when directors plan to make an official decision regarding the 2021 county fair and Canby Rodeo.
As the third-largest in Oregon, Clackamas County is also critical to the state’s goal of vaccinating at least 70% of Oregonians 18 and older, which would abolish the risk level system and remove virtually all restrictions and capacity limits on businesses.
Six of Oregon’s 36 have vaccinated at least 65% of their eligible populations, with Benton County — home to Corvallis and Oregon State University — in the lead at 69.1%.
Five more are nearing that mark and likely to hit it soon: Lane (62.3%), Polk (61.1%), Tillamook (61.1%), Clatsop (59.7%) and Clackamas.
Officials continue to hold free vaccine clinics throughout Clackamas County, including one organized at the Ackerman Center last week by the Canby School District and Canby Fire. Another is scheduled for June 2 at Molalla High School and two more on June 8 and 11 at Canby Foursquare Church.
Children and teens as young as 12 are now eligible to receive the Pfizer vaccine (12- to 14-year-olds must have parental consent).
If you have questions about taking the vaccine, consult your health care provider.
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