MEDFORD, Ore. — Jackson County has been approved for a mass COVID-19 vaccination event later this month, public health officials said on Wednesday.
Jackson County Public Health mentioned in a statement earlier this week that it was working with Asante to organize an event in order to expand local vaccination efforts. On Wednesday, the agency said that they had been approved for the event, with support from the National Guard.
A similar mass vaccination event has been underway since last week at the Oregon State Fairgrounds in Salem, with National Guardsmen arriving this week to help overextended medical staff in their efforts. While this event is the first in the state, it's likely to soon become the model for ramping up vaccinations in these early stages of COVID-19 vaccine distribution.
Jackson County says that the local event is currently slated to be a drive-through clinic at the Jackson County Expo, held on January 21, 22, and 23.
"We will have more information on the hours of operation and who will be eligible to receive the vaccine in the coming days," officials said. "Jackson County will follow the Oregon COVID-19 Vaccine Distribution and Sequencing Plan and additional directives from the state. Asante will be developing a tool for those eligible to receive the vaccine at this event to inform us if they plan to attend."
Since the vaccine arrived in Oregon and inoculations began in mid-December, the state has been in Phase 1a of administering vaccines — prioritizing healthcare workers, certain long-term care facility staff and residents, and first responders. But an announcement from Governor Kate Brown on Tuesday indicated an abrupt change of plans, claiming that vaccinations would be open to seniors, childcare providers, and school staff beginning on January 23.
Because of the tentative dates for Jackson County's event, it's unclear whether those new categories will be eligible for vaccinations when it happens. Since January 23 marks the date that increased shipments of the vaccine are set to begin arriving in Oregon, according to Brown's office, there's no guarantee that doses will be on-hand in great enough quantities at that time for the newly announced categories.
Jackson County Public Health, Asante, Providence, La Clinica, Rogue Community Health, Valley Immediate Care, Mercy Flights, Children and Adolescent Clinic, and other partners are currently working together on the COVID-19 vaccine distribution in Jackson County. Jackson County says it will provide further information on when the vaccine will be available to individuals age 65 and older and educators and where they can access the vaccine in the coming days.