OK, good news first: Fewer than 100,000 Oregonians (less than 4% of the state’s adult population) need to be vaccinated to reach Governor Kate Brown’s goal of 70% — which would trigger a full reopening of businesses and event venues — and scrap the mask mandate everywhere but a few places where their use remains the recommendation of the federal government.
A less robust — but still welcome — reopening would come in Clackamas County if the countywide rate reaches 65%, a threshold that also appears tantalizingly close.
Only 6,800 Clackamas Countians would need to take the shot for the area to reach that mark — 2,000 fewer than the stadium capacity of the Molalla Buckeroo — a July Fourth event organizers canceled this year, in part, because of the continued uncertainty surrounding the county’s reopening.
But — and you knew this was coming — here’s the bad news. Growth in both of those metrics has been frustratingly slow in recent weeks — and is trending steadily in the wrong direction.
As of Tuesday, the statewide vaccination rate stood at 67.1% — an increase of fewer than three points from the mark set 14 days earlier. The county’s number was 63%, a similarly anemic rise from its pre-Memorial Day weekend mark of 60.2% on May 25.
In another metric tracked by the state, the percentage change in people vaccinated over the last week was down by nearly half — from a high of plus-9.4% to plus-4.9% — a clear sign that enthusiasm in the dwindling pool of unvaccinated residents is waning fast.
In the Canby area, the number of people who received their first dose of coronavirus vaccine rose by only 350 in the past 10 days, according to Oregon Health Authority data.
Brown and other state officials remain outwardly optimistic, stating just last Friday their belief that Oregon will cross its 70% goal by June 21 — less than two weeks away.
In addition to the $1.86 million in cash giveaways and scholarships the state is offering to those who take their shot, officials have touted data showing the effectiveness of the vaccine in preventing serious cases of the coronavirus — saying virtually all of those who have contracted or been hospitalized with Covid-19 were unvaccinated.
“For unvaccinated individuals, Covid-19 remains as large a threat as it ever was,” Brown said in a statement this week. “With more contagious variants spreading, far too many Oregonians are still being hospitalized when they could be protected with a vaccine. If you have been waiting to get vaccinated, go get your shot today.”
But the flagging vaccine rollout is not just a Clackamas County aberration. Although some counties have met the 65% vaccination goal — including neighboring Multnomah and Washington counties and, most recently, Lane — the percentage of newly immunized residents is declining across the board.
Oregon is one of only two states in the country (the other being New Mexico) that have elected to tie business reopening to state and county vaccination rates. Most states are already fully open, while a handful have set dates for reopening in the coming weeks.
Brown’s other criteria for counties qualifying to enter the “low risk” category is that they must submit an equity plan for ensuring vaccine access across diverse and vulnerable communities. Clackamas County officials submitted their plan earlier this month.
The plan includes specific outreach to the Latino and Hispanic community, which is the county’s largest and also disproportionately impacted by Covid-19.
Other planned efforts include delivering vaccines to large workplaces like farms and food processing companies, partnering with nonprofits to reach homeless populations, addressing racial inequities, responding to vaccine hesitancy and other concerns, ensuring language accessibility and decreasing transportation barriers.
“We are committed to adapting and tailoring our efforts to meet the needs of the community until we close the vaccination gap,” officials said. “We are requesting approval to reopen Clackamas County as soon as we reach the governor’s 65 percent vaccination goal.”
Canby Foursquare Church is hosting two Covid-19 vaccine clinics this week: one on Tuesday, June 8, and another on Friday, June 11.
The Covid-19 vaccine is free and widely available to people 12 and older. For information about clinics and availability, visit clackamas.us/coronavirus/vaccine or egov.com/find-covid-19-vaccine, call 211 or email questions to COVIDVaccine@clackamas.us.
If you have questions or concerns about the vaccine, consult with your primary care provider or trusted health care professional.
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