Oregon is considering making Covid-19 booster shots available to more vulnerable and at-risk populations recommended to receive them by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, if a multi-state scientific review group approves their use.
While Oregon currently has an adequate supply of Pfizer vaccines, state health officials cautioned that provider capacity could mean that booster shots may not be available on-demand in some communities.
Health officials continued to emphasize that medical evidence shows that all three available vaccines are safe and highly effective at preventing severe Covid-19 illness and death. The recommended Pfizer booster maintains the Pfizer vaccine’s long-term effectiveness, especially for older adults.
Public health officials also urged all unvaccinated Oregonians to talk to their health provider about getting immunized against Covid-19.
Earlier today, a panel of medical and public health experts convened by the CDC recommended a booster dose of the Pfizer vaccine for people age 65 and older, residents of long-term care facilities and people 18 and older who have certain underlying conditions — if received their second dose of the vaccine at least 6 months ago.
The guidance followed the Food & Drug Administration’s emergency use authorization for booster shots — but broke with the FDA in recommending the third shots for people whose occupations put them at high risk of infection, such as front-line health care workers.
The Western States Scientific Safety Review Workgroup, which includes scientific and medical experts in California, Oregon, Washington and Nevada, was to convene late Thursday to consider the federal recommendations.
Those who received the Moderna or one-shot Johnson & Johnson vaccines are not currently eligible to receive a booster, though federal health officials expect to consider such a recommendation in the coming weeks as more data becomes available.
State health officials estimate that more than 230,000 Oregonians could qualify for the Pfizer booster, with more becoming eligible as they reach the six-month threshold since they completed their vaccination series. Across Oregon, vaccination sites currently have twice that number of Pfizer doses in stock.
Eligible residents in long-term care facilities should receive their boosters through vaccination plans developed between their homes and pharmacies. State officials are also planning ways to reach homebound seniors, people with disabilities and other vulnerable populations.
In some regions of the state, providers and local public health officials again may set up large mass vaccination sites.
“Our ability to deliver Pfizer boosters isn’t limited by the availability of doses, but by capacity of health care providers to administer them at the same time they’re treating hundreds of new cases each day, driven by the delta variant which is running rampant largely among unvaccinated Oregonians,” OHA Director Patrick Allen said in a press release.
Allen added that he’s grateful for the dedication and resilience of Oregon’s health care community.
“I ask Oregonians to recognize that you may not have a booster appointment waiting for you the day you become eligible, but you will get one,” Allen said. ‘In the meantime, your vaccine continues to protect you from Covid-19, no matter what vaccination you’ve received.”
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