First COVID-19 vaccinations begin in Oregon

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — Oregon hospitals administered the first coronavirus vaccines in the state Wednesday to nurses, respiratory therapists, housekeeping workers and other health care employees in high-risk jobs, marking the beginning of a broad vaccination campaign in a state that’s seen more than 1,200 COVID-19 deaths since the pandemic began.

Those vaccinated during the coordinated event — streamed live over the internet — were from Legacy Health System and Oregon Health & Science University in Portland and Saint Alphonsus Medical Center on the Oregon-Idaho border.

Vaccine shipments to other hospitals, including Salem Hospital, will continue to arrive this week.

The Oregon Health Authority has said it will receive 35,100 initial doses of the Pfizer vaccine that has been approved by federal and Western state authorities.

Another vaccine made by Moderna is expected to receive federal approval soon and Oregon officials estimate there will enough of the two vaccines to initially inoculate about 100,000 people statewide.

On Wednesday, the vaccinations kicked off at Legacy Health in Portland with five health care workers, including an emergency room nurse, an intensive care unit nurse, a respiratory therapist, the head of housekeeping services and a radiologist.

After a countdown, the recipients’ colleagues burst into cheers and applause as the needles pierced their arms. Some gave high fives.

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