SALEM, Ore. — Following criticism of Oregon's rate for COVID-19 vaccinations, Governor Kate Brown issued a statement on Monday directing health officials to ramp up efforts.
Oregon trails 40 other states in vaccinations for coronavirus, the Oregonian/OregonLive reported over the weekend. That news has prompted blow-back from other public figures.
“It is unfathomable that Oregon is in the bottom ten amongst states across the nation in COVID-19 vaccination distribution," said Representative David Brock Smith, R-Port Orford. “ . . . Lives are being lost, many hang in the balance and Oregonians deserve a state government that has a clear and reliable plan for a systematic vaccine rollout.”
As of Monday, the Oregon Health Authority reported that just over 51,000 doses of COVID-19 vaccine had been administered, including the first handful of second doses. But Oregon has received roughly 190,500 doses in total, and OHA says that those doses have already been distributed to sites across the state.
In her statement, Governor Brown underlined that Oregonians must be vaccinated as quickly as possible, but defended the state's roll-out.
“By percentage of our population, Oregon has administered about the same number of vaccinations as other states, and distribution will continue to ramp up quickly," Brown said. "We have increased vaccinations from about 3,700 given in our first week to over 29,000 in the last week.
“But Oregon, like most of the country, is not moving fast enough. All states are grappling with the same logistical challenges, and while we are making steady progress, we must move even more quickly when every vaccination has the potential to save someone’s life."
Brown said that she has directed OHA to reach a benchmark of 12,000 vaccinations in the state per day, to be achieved by the end of the next two weeks.
"That will put us on track to deploy every vaccine we have in our hands each week," Brown said.
However, OHA is not directly involved with most vaccinations — which are currently being administered by hospitals, local public health agencies, and corporate partners like CVS and Walgreens that have taken on long-term care facilities. Brown said that OHA will be working with these providers to "streamline the distribution process" and reach her goal.
“This is an all-hands-on-deck effort, and I have directed OHA to partner as widely as possible to ensure we are using all available resources to ramp up Oregon's vaccinations rapidly,” Brown concluded.