By TED TAYLOR
CENTRAL OREGON DAILY NEWS
Oregonians 45 and older with pre-existing conditions will be eligible for the COVID vaccine by March 29th, according to new plans Gov. Kate Brown announced on Friday.
The general public – anyone 16 and over – will be eligible for the vaccine by July 1st.
“Come summer, provided supplies from the federal government continue as planned, any Oregonian who wants the vaccine will be eligible to receive it,” Brown said. “While that gives us all a reason to breathe a sigh of relief — it should also serve as a reminder that the finish line is in sight and we cannot let up. New variants of this virus still threaten our communities. While infection rates continue to plummet both here in Oregon and across the country, we’re not out of the woods just yet.”
The OHA reports the state has now administered 881,206 first and second doses of COVID vaccines; 1,170,595 doses of vaccine have been delivered to sites across Oregon.
Oregon will continue to vaccinate Oregon seniors, educators, adults in custody, and anyone else eligible in Phase 1a until March 29th.
The continuation of Phase 1b will proceed in two waves:
Beginning March 29, the following groups of Oregonians will be eligible for vaccination:
- Adults age 45 to 64 with underlying health conditions as defined by the CDC
- Seasonally-impacted frontline workers, such as migrant seasonal farm workers, seafood and agricultural workers, and food processing workers
- Currently displaced victims of the September 2020 wildfires
- Wildland firefighters
- People living in low-income and congregate senior housing
- Individuals experiencing houselessness
No later than May 1, the following groups of Oregonians will be eligible:
- All other frontline workers as defined by the CDC
- Individuals age 16-45 with underlying health conditions
- Multigenerational household members
No later than June 1, Phase 2 of vaccination will begin with all adults aged 45 to 64.
Of course, the efforts will rely on vaccination availability.
In recent weeks a limited supply has been trickling into Central Oregon; this week fewer than 3,500 first-doses were available.
And late Friday, Deschutes County Health Officials sounded pessimistic about quickly moving through vaccinations.
The OHA has allocated 2,340 first-doses to the county for the week of March 1st – the same day nearly 40,000 county residents 65+ are eligible to get the vaccine.
If weekly allocations don’t increase, the county said it might take until early May to be able to offer first-dose appointments to all residents who are 65+
“Unfortunately, due to limited vaccine supply, not everyone who is eligible to receive a vaccine will be able to schedule an appointment this week,” said Dr. George Conway, Deschutes County Health Services Director. “With current allocations, it may be several weeks before everyone who is eligible is able to be scheduled.”
In Central Oregon, nearly 40,000 people have received at least their first dose of the vaccine.
OHA Director Patrick Allen said Friday he expects the state to get “game-changing volumes” of vaccines from the federal government in the coming weeks.
He said the state intends to ramp up vaccination efforts to get to as many people as quickly as possible.
“As more vaccines become available, we can expand vaccine distribution points to more locations where many people are used to getting vaccinated: Retail pharmacy outlets, outpatient clinics and other sites linked to hospitals and health systems to help loosen bottlenecks,” he explained. “
By August or September everyone should have had the chance to at least get the first dose of the vaccine, Allen said.
To date, more than 154,500 Oregonians have contracted COVID and 2,206 have died from the disease.
But cases statewide and hospitalizations have been declining steadily for the last three weeks statewide.
In Deschutes County, cases have gone down each of the last five weeks.
Sunday marks one year since the first coronavirus case was diagnosed in Oregon.
Brown also on Friday announced the state will receive $220 million to reimburse hospitals, clinics, local public health partners, and other organizations for the costs of their vaccination efforts through April 21.
FEMA staff will be on hand to help with vaccination clinics at the Deschutes County Fairgrounds as well as the Oregon Convention Center, PDX and Hillsboro Stadium.
“We are grateful for this assistance, and look forward to the next steps in our vaccine response,” Brown said. “Each week, more supply comes online. More Oregonians get vaccinated. We make more progress with each and every day.”