There is “some light at the end of this tunnel,” Governor Kate Brown and health officials told Oregonians Friday, in the form of more than 250,000 doses of coronavirus vaccine that are expected to be shipped to the state by the end of the month.
The current and most effective vaccinations for Covid-19, which are still pending FDA approval, require two doses.
Assuming emergency approvals are granted by the federal government, more than 35,100 first doses of a vaccine developed by Pfizer and BioNTech will be shipped to Oregon starting Dec. 15, with another 40,000 anticipated later this month.
The next week, approximately 71,900 first doses of the Moderna vaccine will be on their way to the Beaver State, Brown said. In all, the state expects to receive 147,000 first doses and 119,450 second doses of Covid-19 vaccine this month.
However, Brown and health officials implored Oregonians to not get complacent and continue to do everything within their power to mitigate the spread of the novel coronavirus.
“The introduction of a vaccine does not end this pandemic,” the governor said. “Right now and into the foreseeable future, the only way to reduce transmission and slow the spread of this disease is to continue to take safety precautions until the vaccine is both widely available and widely administered.”
Appearing at a press conference Friday morning with OHA officials, Brown acknowledged the fatigue many are feeling after 10 months of the unprecedented challenges and widespread changes to daily life that the pandemic has brought.
“Times are really tough right now, not only in Oregon but across the country,” she said. “I’ve said this before, but it needs to be said again: We are not out of this crisis yet. In fact, our hardest days lie ahead. Our hospitals are filling up, and many are reducing elective surgeries.”
OHA’s distribution plan includes enrolling vaccine provider sites in a statewide vaccination program, so doses of the vaccines can be allocated to those locations within days after their arrival.
Hospitals will be the primary sites for immunization of the first group of recipients — referred to as the “1a group” — which includes health care workers, first responders, workers in congregate care settings, and long-term care facility residents and staff.
The plan and guidelines for distribution of the vaccine to the general public are still being developed, health officials said, but will ultimately include a variety of channels, such as local public health authorities, tribal clinics, open pods and community clinics.
During Friday’s press conference, state officials announced Oregon had reached several more grim milestones: 30 deaths reported in a single day — a new record — which brought the statewide death toll over the 1,000 mark.
OHA also reported more than 2,100 new confirmed and presumptive cases Friday — the first time the daily count had crossed 2,000 — resulting in more than 80,000 total cases since the pandemic reached Oregon in late February.
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