First Doses of Covid-19 Vaccine Expected to Reach Oregon Monday

The first doses of the new coronavirus vaccine developed by Pfizer are expected to reach distribution sites in Oregon Monday, as a four-state scientific review panel that includes the Beaver State this weekend declared the treatment to be safe and effective.

The safety review workgroup that Oregon, California, Washington and Nevada convened in October issued an eight-page report on Saturday describing Pfizer’s vaccine as “safe and efficacious” and calling for it to be used without fear or delay.

“In less than 10 months since the first case of Covid-19 was identified in Oregon, the day is soon approaching when this vaccine and others will help us begin to return to normal life,” Oregon Governor Kate Brown said in one of two prepared statements released this weekend.

“With recommendations from the FDA, CDC, and, now, the Western States Scientific Safety Review Workgroup, Oregonians can rest assured that some of the best doctors, scientists, and immunologists in the world have reviewed the data and affirmed that the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine is safe and effective.”

State officials have said they expect to receive 35,100 first doses (the vaccine requires two for full efficacy) from Pfizer this week as part of a broader shipment plan.

By the end of December, the state is supposed to have received enough doses of the Pfizer vaccine and a yet-to-be-approved one developed by Moderna to immunize 100,000 Oregonians, health officials have said.

Health care workers, along with staff and residents of long-term care facilities, will be first in line to receive the vaccine — a process that is expected to take several months. State officials estimate there are 330,000 health care workers in Oregon.

According to the governor’s office and the Oregon Health Authority, an estimated 75% of the state’s 4.2 million residents must receive the vaccine to reach herd immunity — the threshold at which health officials predict immunity would be widespread enough to ward off serious outbreaks.

A schedule for receiving and distributing the millions of doses that would be needed has not yet been released by the state, but it could take well into the summer or even fall of 2021.

Oregon joined the medical review panel to vet the work of federal regulators responsible for approving the new coronavirus vaccines, given the exceptionally fast timeline in which they were developed and the uphill battle against distrust of the vaccine that state officials have already acknowledged they are facing.

In a previous press conference, Governor Brown cited a September survey where only 4 in 10 of the Oregonians surveyed said that they would “certainly” get vaccinated.

On Sunday, Brown called for her state’s residents to “dig just a little deeper, hold on just a little longer,” and continue to follow the public health advice that — despite recent surges in new cases, hospitalizations and deaths — has kept Oregon among the states that have best navigated the coronavirus pandemic.

“Please keep doing your part to keep your family and loved ones safe: Wear a mask, stay home when you are sick, and avoid gatherings,” she said. “Together, we can do this. Hope is on the way.”

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