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Despite hurdles, OHA says 75 percent of seniors, other eligible groups can get vaccinated by early April

Governor Kate Brown and officials from the Oregon Health Authority held a press briefing on Friday morning with updates on the state's ongoing coronavirus response efforts.

Posted: Feb 5, 2021 12:23 PM
Updated: Feb 5, 2021 2:24 PM

SALEM, Ore. — Despite ongoing struggles with the relative scarcity of coronavirus vaccine doses, Governor Kate Brown and Oregon health officials expressed optimism on Friday that three-quarters of all eligible groups — including the large population of seniors — would be able to get their first doses by early April.

Friday's estimate marked a leap from the previous approximation of early May, in the face of accusations that Oregon has been "overpromising" its vaccine supply line. State officials cautioned that any projection hinges on the federal government's ability to deliver the promised shipments.

"By early April, everyone [eligible] who wants a vaccine should be able to get one . . . it's just going to take some time," said Oregon Health Authority director Patrick Allen in a Friday press conference.

The first group of independent seniors, those 80 and older, ostensibly become eligible for vaccination under Oregon's plan on Monday, just two weeks after educators and childcare workers. At the same time, a federal court ruling earlier this week mandated that inmates of Oregon's prison system become eligible as part of the early Phase 1a group, requiring that prisoners begin receiving the vaccine as well.

Allen admitted that there will be "some degree of chaos" beginning next week due to the rapid increase in eligible people. There are more than 150,000 Oregonians in the 80 and older group, and more than 750,000 seniors in total who will become eligible over the course of February.

"I want to thank our seniors for their patience thus far, and for their continued patience in the coming days and weeks," said Governor Brown. "We are still managing a scarce resource. There will be hiccups in this process, but we are going to get through them. Signing up for an appointment will look different based on your community and your health care provider."

By late February, an estimated 1.3 million Oregonians will have become eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine under Oregon's current plan, up from 550,000 at present.


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Allen said that state officials are asking older Oregonians for patience, promising that every senior who wants the vaccine will eventually receive it.

"Many seniors and their family members will be frustrated in trying to secure a vaccination appointment next week," Allen said.

Adults in custody represent another 12,000 people, not including inmates currently incarcerated in county jails or young people in youth correctional facilities. Inmates will begin receiving their first doses this week, starting with a batch of 5,000 doses. Governor Brown indicated that correctional facilities across the state would receive 5,000 doses each week until all inmates are vaccinated.

Both Brown and Allen said that the Biden administration has promised a surge in vaccine shipments over the next few weeks, including a more than 20 percent increase in the number of vaccine doses distributed to the state, plus those that are heading to retail pharmacies participating in the federal program.

The federal surge gives officials confidence in the projection that 75 percent of current eligible groups, in addition to the full population of seniors, will be able to receive at least their first dose of the vaccine by early April. Allen said that he anticipated those same groups would receive their second doses by late May.

Governor Brown on Friday marked the "grim milestone" of Oregon surpassing 2,000 deaths attributed to coronavirus since the pandemic began. But both Brown and Allen underlined Oregon's relatively strong position in the U.S. in regards to COVID-19, with some of the lowest infection and mortality rates in the nation.

Oregon has also shot up from near the bottom of states in percentage of population vaccinated as of early January, up to 12th in the country as of early February.

Allen directed people with questions about getting vaccinated to OHA's COVID-19 vaccine page, and encouraged seniors to call 211 or text ORCOVID to 898211 for questions. However, Allen said, there is still not statewide hotline for people with questions about making vaccine appointments due to the variety of different circumstances in each individual county.

Beginning on Monday, Brown said that the OHA vaccine page will include a new tool called "Get Vaccinated Oregon" — developed with Google's help — that can help people figure out their eligibility and sign up for email or text alerts when they become eligible.

The difference in vaccine availability county-by-county will likely be stark in the week's ahead. While Klamath County has already begun setting up clinics for seniors 80 and older beginning this weekend — before official eligibility begins on February 8 — there is no indication yet that providers in counties like Jackson or Josephine will be able to begin vaccinating seniors early next week.

Oregon Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 217690

Reported Deaths: 2849
CountyCasesDeaths
Multnomah41633618
Washington27703258
Marion24391330
Clackamas19818241
Lane14732174
Jackson12414153
Deschutes1049387
Umatilla939694
Linn620281
Yamhill504281
Klamath492479
Douglas440787
Polk426957
Josephine410075
Malheur365967
Benton343622
Jefferson248942
Coos228439
Columbia207632
Union164924
Lincoln153122
Wasco151931
Crook138524
Hood River125534
Morrow121717
Clatsop114510
Baker108217
Curry76812
Tillamook7415
Grant5597
Lake4878
Harney45511
Wallowa2256
Gilliam851
Sherman812
Wheeler381
Unassigned00

California Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 3935590

Reported Deaths: 64341
CountyCasesDeaths
Los Angeles129039524658
Riverside3068364659
San Bernardino3058275236
San Diego2941763798
Orange2812285143
Santa Clara1228212099
Sacramento1146521775
Kern1129331420
Fresno1042881746
Alameda955391280
Ventura835231043
San Joaquin769151460
Contra Costa75842830
Stanislaus655371088
Tulare50324854
Monterey44438526
San Mateo44378588
San Francisco39939563
Solano35703261
Santa Barbara35546467
Merced32961484
Sonoma32526329
Imperial29048745
Placer24955307
Kings23566250
San Luis Obispo21970265
Madera16998249
Santa Cruz16532207
Marin14791239
Yolo14759215
Butte13176205
Shasta12925242
El Dorado11010120
Napa1040084
Sutter10126115
Yuba694951
San Benito626363
Lassen587626
Tehama583666
Nevada532475
Humboldt501053
Mendocino465851
Tuolumne446173
Lake415765
Amador386148
Siskiyou255440
Glenn246027
Colusa235718
Calaveras229558
Del Norte16128
Inyo145338
Mono13195
Plumas7656
Modoc5737
Mariposa4977
Trinity4596
Sierra1260
Alpine890
Unassigned530
Medford
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Brookings
Clear
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Crater Lake
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Grants Pass
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Klamath Falls
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