Oregon’s vaccination efforts will soon expand to include all people 65 and older, child care providers, educators and other school staff, Governor Kate Brown announced Tuesday.
The announcement came with the news that the federal government would be releasing its full reserve of vaccines available to states, rather than holding some doses in storage, Brown’s office said.
Vaccination of Oregon seniors — as well as child care providers and early learning and K-12 educators and staff — will start on Jan. 23, when additional vaccine shipments are expected to begin arriving from the federal government.
“While this is an unexpected change in course from the federal government, receiving more vaccines is welcome news for states — and Oregon is ready to devote all resources necessary to ramp up distribution with our health care partners,” said Governor Brown.
Oregon, like many states, has weathered criticism for its sluggish rollout of the Covid-19 vaccine that was developed by scientists in record time.
Vaccination rates at both the state and national levels lagged far behind stated goals in December — the first month doses were made available to health care systems, hospitals and governments.
Brown said the Oregon Health Authority and Oregon National Guard have already begun working with hospitals, pharmacies and local public health partners to ensure Oregon seniors and educators will have “ready access” to the vaccine.
She said plans are being developed for the rapid deployment of vaccines to health care providers and mass vaccination sites across Oregon — more details of which will be revealed at a press conference Friday.
“If you are an Oregonian who is newly eligible for vaccination, I am asking for your patience,” Brown said. “Please, do not call your doctor’s office or health care provider with questions about when you can be vaccinated. Today’s news arrived with no advance notice from the federal government.
“Oregon health care providers are working as fast as humanly possible to shift their vaccine distribution plans to meet this sudden change in national guidance.”
Finally, the governor said she is as committed as ever to assuring that minority community disproportionately impacted by Covid-19 will have access to the vaccine, including Black, Indigenous, tribal, Latino, Latina, and Latinx, Pacific Islander, and communities of color.
“Reaching educators and individuals aged 65 and older from these communities is absolutely critical, as we strive to achieve equitable vaccine distribution in each phase of this process,” she said.
To reach the state’s goal of administering 12,000 vaccines a day by the end of this week, the governor has deployed the National Guard to provide logistical and nursing support of the vaccination rollout — including Salem Health’s mass vaccination events at the state fairgrounds.
Brown attended one such clinic Wednesday, along with Oregon Adjutant General Michael Stencel, Salem Health President and CEO Cheryl Wolfe, and Salem Health Chief Medical Officer Dr. Ralph Yates.
“I am very proud of the leadership of Salem Health, who stood up this vaccination clinic on their own, and who are vaccinating hundreds of people a day. They also have a great partner with the Oregon National Guard, who are providing vaccination support.
“We are working to develop more partnerships like this one —in communities large and small across the state — to get Oregonians vaccinated as quickly as possible.”
At the clinics, Oregon Guard members supported Salem Health by assisting with processing, administration, giving shots and monitoring patients after they received the immunization.
“This is Oregonians helping Oregonians,” said Maj. Gen. Stencel. “This is what we do. We’re out here as part of the community working with Salem Health. They’re happy to have us, and we’re happy to work and learn with them.”
As of Wednesday, 119,979 Oregonians had received at least one dose of the Covid-19 vaccine (two are required for maximum efficacy), including 10,941 in Clackamas County.
More photos from the statewide vaccination clinic available below: