SALEM, Ore. — Both the Pfizer and Moderna coronavirus vaccines are actively being distributed in Oregon, but administration has been admittedly slow so far — and clear information about the process can be hard to find. Here's what you need to know about the vaccines and the state's progress.
Oregon's vaccine sequence plan
County public health information
As COVID-19 vaccines become more widely available, local information on how to go about getting the vaccine may be made available by County public health agencies. Check on these sites to see if they have provided information on how you can get vaccinated, if you believe you are eligible under the current phase.
Vaccinations were initially divided into different priority tiers, beginning with health care staff, long-term care facility staff and residents, and first responders. At the outset, vaccinations are being administered by a limited roster of providers, like hospital networks and local public health agencies.
In Jackson County, for example, vaccines are being administered to the Phase 1a group by Asante, Providence, Jackson County Public Health, La Clinica, Rogue Community Health, Mercy Flights, and Valley Immediate Care. For the time being, those vaccine providers are working directly within their organizations and with other, related groups to vaccinate eligible people.
As of early January, the Oregon Health Authority did not have a central location for inquiries from people who are in Phase 1a with questions about when they will be vaccinated. If you aren't sure whether you fall into Phase 1a, check out Oregon's full vaccine sequencing plan, here.
OHA does not require proof that someone falls into Phase 1a and does not plan to request verification from vaccinating providers. If you think you fall under Phase 1a but have been turned away from getting a vaccine, contact your local public health department.
Expanding the vaccination effort in Oregon
At the beginning of January, Governor Kate Brown set a goal of administering 12,000 vaccine doses in Oregon per day by mid-January, as the state has lagged behind roughly two-thirds of other U.S. states in vaccinations. By the third week of January, daily vaccinations were regularly hitting or exceeding that goal.
Both state and local public health officials have been working toward organizing larger vaccination events to more easily administer doses to larger numbers of eligible people during the current phase. The Oregon National Guard is currently helping with vaccination effort at the state fairgrounds in Salem, and similar events are set to unfold around the state as time goes on.
Governor Brown announced on January 15 that the state has adjusted its timeline for vaccinating groups beyond Phase 1a. Vaccinations will be opened to grade-school educators and school staff beginning January 25. Instead of opening vaccinations up to all seniors 65 and older this month, the process will be opened up to seniors 80 and older beginning on February 8, following by progressively younger groups.
These decisions on educators and seniors mark something of a departure from the state's tiered model, so it is likely that this model will change as time goes on.
Because it is not currently known how quickly those shipments will arrive and be distributed, local providers may not be able to vaccinate those new groups immediately when those dates come.
Public health officials continue to caution that it will be months before the COVID-19 is widely available to the general public.
Information about the COVID-19 vaccine from public health officials
Clinical studies showed both the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines to be more than 94 percent effective when both doses are received. Neither vaccine showed serious common safety issues, and tended to protect people from getting COVID-19 and from getting seriously ill if they did get the virus.
These vaccines were tested in large clinical trials and research studies with tens of thousands of people to make sure they met the safety standards. In fact, both vaccines were tested in many more people than a typical vaccine trial. Many people were recruited to participate in these trials to see how the vaccine offers protection to people of different ages, races, and ethnicities, as well as those with different medical conditions. Every study, every phase and every trial was reviewed by the FDA and a safety board.
Most people do not have serious problems after being vaccinated. Common side effects include your arm may become sore, red, or warm to the touch. These symptoms usually go away on their own within a week. Some people report getting a headache or fever when getting the vaccine. These side effects are a sign that your immune system is doing exactly what it is suppose to do. It is working and building up protection to the disease.
Everyone who receives the vaccine will stay at the clinic for 15 minutes after they receive the vaccine, in case they need help for any reaction.
Experts do not know yet how long the immunity lasts once a person receives the COVID-19 vaccine. They also do not know whether a person who has received the vaccine can still spread the virus to other people. More information about the vaccines is being collected and reported every day.