SALEM, Ore. — The Pfizer, Moderna, and Johnson & Johnson 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 have been divided into different priority tiers, beginning with health care staff, long-term care facility staff and residents, and first responders. At the outset, vaccinations were being administered by a limited roster of providers — like hospital networks and local public health agencies — but doses are now going to community health clinics and some retail pharmacies.
Efforts to vaccinate the first group, Phase 1A, started in December. The process was opened to the first group of Phase 1B — childcare workers, pre-K through 12th grade teachers, and other school staff — on January 25.
Under Oregon's plan, seniors became eligible over a series of four weeks. The first group, those 80 and older, became eligible on February 8. On March 1, all seniors 65 and older became eligible.
On February 26, Governor Kate Brown and the Oregon Health Authority outlined what groups will be eligible during the remainder of Phase 1b and through Phase 2, and that timeline received a major update on March 19.Some counties began opening vaccinations to further groups on May 22, but the next major dates for eligibility are March 29 (adults 45 and older with underlying conditions, agricultural and certain food workers, others), April 5 (all frontline works, and younger adults with underlying conditions), and May 1 (all Oregonians 16 and older). The graphic below provides more details on these dates and categories.
Regardless, the short supply of vaccine doses at a national level remains an issue, and eligibility for the vaccine will not necessarily translate to being able to receive it, potentially for a matter of weeks.
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 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 has helped with vaccination efforts at the state fairgrounds in Salem, and similar events around the state.
Governor Brown announced on January 15 that the state had adjusted its timeline for vaccinating groups beyond Phase 1a. Vaccinations were set to be opened to grade-school educators and school staff beginning January 25. Instead of opening vaccinations up to all seniors 65 and older in January, the process was opened up to seniors 80 and older beginning on February 8, following by progressively younger groups.
These decisions on educators and seniors marked something of a departure from the state's original 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 new groups immediately when those dates come.
Beginning March 29, a number of groups become eligible for the vaccine — including adults 45 and older with underlying health conditions, certain frontline workers, displaced victims of the September wildfires, wildland firefighters, people living in low-income and congregate senior housing, and people experiencing houselessness.
By April 5, all other frontline workers, people 16 and older with underlying health conditions, and members of multi-generational households become eligible. All Oregonians 16 and over will be eligible by May 1.
As the vaccination efforts continue, local public health officials are increasingly transitioning away from mass vaccination events and toward more centralized, ongoing vaccination centers. Jackson County has one already in place, and Josephine County is expected to follow suit. More rural counties may continue with some mixture of the two models.
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. 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.