SALEM, Ore. — Vaccinations for coronavirus are now well underway at Oregon hospitals and long-term care facilities, and state officials say that both residents and staff at the Oregon Veterans' Homes in Lebanon and The Dalles have received their first doses.
As of Monday morning, the Oregon Health Authority said that more than 20,000 first vaccine doses had been administered at health and care facilities throughout the state.
The Oregon Department of Veterans' Affairs announced Monday that two of the agency's Veterans' Homes received their first doses of the Pfizer vaccine from Consonus Healthcare over the weekend. Vaccinations were made freely available to all staff and residents.
The Veteran's Home in Lebanon was one of the first long-term care facilities in the state to identify a COVID-19 outbreak, and was associated with Oregon's first confirmed death from the virus. Between the Lebanon and The Dalles facilities, coronavirus outbreaks had resulted in 11 deaths as of December 21.
“‘Grateful’ is the word, as a long and difficult year draws to a close,” said ODVA Director Kelly Fitzpatrick. “We are grateful for the scientists and lab technicians who have made this vaccine possible in record time. We are grateful for our national, state and local partners who have brought doses to Oregon and ensured our honored residents and the incredible staff of the Oregon Veterans’ Homes are among the first to receive it.”
The Pfizer vaccine requires two doses to be fully effective, and officials continue to warn that it could be months before enough Oregonians have received to to reach "community immunity."
"The Homes will continue to follow strict infectious disease control protocol and conduct regular testing to ensure the safety of residents and staff. ODVA is also working with public health officials to determine ongoing visitation and admissions guidance as the state continues to distribute the vaccination to all Oregonians," the agency said.
State officials continue to urge that Oregonians remain cautious and continue to follow public health guidelines — wearing masks, washing hands frequently, avoiding large gatherings, and maintaining six feet of physical distance from people outside of your household.
“Hope is here, but the darkest days of this pandemic may yet lie ahead,” Fitzpatrick said. “Oregonians, including those in the communities surrounding our Veterans’ Homes, have made tremendous sacrifices this year to save lives, and we are grateful. We ask you to hold this historic line just a little longer, to help ensure the health and safety of our veterans and those most vulnerable among us.”