By HANNAH SIEVERT
CENTRAL OREGON DAILY NEWS
Deschutes County received 1,200 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine this week to allocate to people 80 and older.
Many of those first-dose appointments are being scheduled by primary care providers.
One of those providers is High Lakes Health Care in Bend, which received 350 doses for their patients.
“I was expecting zero, so 350 was a gift,” Director of Primary Care Becca Mataya said.
On Monday, High Lakes opened an online portal where seniors could sign up for a vaccine appointment.
But not everyone who signed up is eligible.
“Within the first hour 50% of the sign ups were all people under the age of 80,” Mataya said.
Mataya said they’re calling those ineligible who signed up and explaining eligibility requirements.
With that 50% removed, High Lakes has some spots left this week.
“We’re getting pretty full but yes there’s definitely still availability,” Mataya said. “Again, we want to make sure we exhaust every effort to reach our 80 and up group.”
To reach those who are eligible, High Lakes is sending out emails and doctors are calling all elderly patients.
“We have patients who are living in Arizona in the winter and they want to know how to get a vaccine in Arizona, or they already got a vaccine at the fairgrounds,” Mataya said. “Working through these lists is not a quick thing.”
If the people they contact need help signing up, High Lakes can schedule them over the phone.
“We’re actually finding the majority of them have accessed the link or have been to the fairgrounds or live out of the area,” Mataya said.
Morgan Emerson with Deschutes County Public Health said if you’re currently within the state’s vaccine eligibility requirements, the best way to be connected to a vaccine appointment is to fill out a vaccination interest form at the county’s website.
Emerson said people shouldn’t call their primary care providers and clog up phone lines; instead, a provider will call a patient if they are eligible.