Exactly one week after saying she would not rush to move Oregon’s vaccination timeline up despite being at least two months behind the national outlook for vaccine supply, Governor Kate Brown reversed course and did just that.
At a press briefing Friday with the Oregon Health Authority, Brown announced that all adult residents 16 years and older would eligible for a shot by May 1 — which is in line with the date President Joe Biden said he wants all American adults to be able to get a vaccine.
Starting March 22, counties that can demonstrate they have finishing vaccinations for Oregonians 65 and older can move to the next prioritization groups.
As of Friday, about 58% of Oregonians 65 and older have been vaccinated statewide, and Oregon is on track to vaccinate more than seven out of 10 older adults by March 29, which is the next date that new groups become eligible statewide.
That group includes adults between 45 and 64 with underlying health conditions, pregnant people 16 and older, migrant and seasonal farmworkers, seafood, agricultural and food processing workers, homeless people, wildland firefighters and people in low-income senior housing.
Front-line workers who meet the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention definition, people in multigenerational housing and adults between 16 and 44 with underlying health conditions to get the shot starting April 19.
And, as we previously mentioned, all adults 16 and older will be eligible by May 1.
“As vaccination efforts speed up, I want to thank Oregonians once again for making smart choices throughout this pandemic,” Brown said. “Oregon continues to hold one of the lowest infection and mortality rates in the entire country. We have the fourth-lowest infection rate since the start of the pandemic, and fifth-lowest mortality rate. Your actions have saved lives.
“As we open up eligibility to all Oregonians on May 1, I remain committed to the equitable distribution of vaccines for our seniors, frontline workers, and Oregonians with underlying health conditions.”
Provided that the federal government comes through with the doses it has promised, the states expects it will have enough doses for every Oregonian who wants a vaccine by the end of May.
“That makes me smile,” the governor said. “I hope it does for you, too. The future’s looking brighter every day.”
Sometime this summer, Oregon will be faced with what could be the next big vaccine obstacle: more vaccines than people who want to take them.
As of Friday, the state had fully vaccinated more than half a million people. Oregon will reach herd immunity when between 70% and 80% of the state population has been vaccinated.
Also Friday, Brown said the Oregon Department of Education and OHA are reviewing updated guidance from the CDC on social distancing in schools.
The CDC confirmed this week that children in public schools need keep only a social distance of 3 feet in areas where COVID-19 is not spreading as easily.
The CDC maintained its guidance of 6 feet social distance for middle and high school students in communities where COVID-19 is more prevalent.
“School districts will still need to have conversations at the local level to update their plans for a return to in-person instruction and go through their own decision-making processes,” Brown said. “But I do hope this helps get even more of our kids back into classrooms.”
The governor has ordered all schools to return students to hybrid or full in-person learning by mid-April.
Oregon has confirmed more than 160,000 cases of COVID-19 as of Friday. The disease has killed at least 2,353 people in Oregon.
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