▶️ Local health officials promise vaccine boost, but can’t give specifics

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By HANNAH SIEVERT
CENTRAL OREGON DAILY NEWS

Director of Deschutes County Public Health Dr. George Conway said it’s an achievement to be vaccinating people today for the virus he announced the arrival of a year ago.

“Our county continues to get a little safer every day,” Conway said.

On the anniversary of the first case, more than 43,000 people in the county have received their first dose of the COVID vaccine.

Conway expects the county’s vaccination rate to soon accelerate. The OHA recently promised a higher weekly allocation in the next few months.

“The vaccine availability and the amount that will be allocated to counties per week will continue to rise quite sharply in April and into May,” Conway said.

The county has received around 2,000 doses per week so far.

How many more should we expect each week in the coming months? Conway can’t say for sure.

“We’re only getting maybe 10% of the vaccine that we could administer with our current capabilities,” Conway said. “The belief is that in the next month, maybe a week or two more than that, we’ll shift where we’ll start getting supply that’s very close to what we can administer.”

The OHA’s promise comes after the federal government said it will give more doses to each state as vaccine production ramps up and new vaccines become available.

Central Oregon Daily asked Patrick Kelly, the executive vice president of government affairs for the Healthcare Distribution Alliance if the promises made by state and federal governments seem reasonable.

“We got 800 million doses of product that’s destined to be available by the end of May,” Kelly said. “Moving that amount of produce is a Herculean task.”

The effort will be even more important in order to follow through on President Biden’s goal of having all Americans eligible for the vaccine by May 1st.

That’s two months ahead of Oregon’s announced schedule of having everyone here eligible by July 1st.

Kelly says the national supply chain is capable of moving the doses promised to the states and the production of those doses is only accelerating.

“It’s going to be done, and we’re going to get that product out,” Kelly said.

Conway says the county has the capability to distribute those doses to the masses when they get here.

“We’ll be able to move very rapidly in a matter of just weeks to maybe a couple of months to vaccinate everyone who wants to be vaccinated,” Conway said.

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