MEDFORD, Ore. — With federal shipments of coronavirus vaccine expected to ramp up over the next several months and a third vaccine now approved by the FDA, the largest vaccine providers in Jackson County have partnered up to establish a consolidated and ongoing clinic to serve people who are eligible under Oregon's plan.
Jackson County Public Health indicated earlier this week that it would be partnering with Asante and Providence on the centralized clinic, effectively replacing mass vaccination drives like previous events at the Expo. The group held a press briefing on Friday to address more details about the initiative.
Community COVID-19 Vaccination Clinic
People eligible to receive the vaccine can call (541) 789-2813, Option 2 (Opcion 3 en Español) to make an appointment, and the address will be provided at the time the appointment is made.
“Creating this clinic means the people in our community no longer need to worry about how or where they can get vaccinated,” said Dr. Jim Shames, medical director for Jackson County Public Health. “Once they’re eligible, it will simply be a matter of scheduling an appointment.”
Jackson County, Asante and Providence have been working on the joint clinic idea since early February, as it became increasingly clear that access to the limited vaccine supply needed to be optimized.
“Pulling together the clinic’s operational and logistical components such as location, a centralized phone number and enough staff to answer phone calls takes time,” said Doug Ward, vice president of Operations at Asante Physician Partners. “We want to ensure the person’s experience with the process is positive and that their access to care is streamlined.”
Even for people who have been eligible for weeks under Oregon's schedule, securing an opportunity to receive the vaccine has been difficult and confusing. The state's vaccine supply spread is out among a variety of providers and there has been no truly centralized method of making an appointment outside of the Portland metro area.
According to the clinic partners, all three organizations field hundreds of phone calls and emails each week from people wanting to know how and where can they can vaccinated.
"It’s incredibly inspiring that so many people want to help stop the spread of this disease through vaccination,” said Amy Bronson, director of clinical operations for Providence Medical Group. “Partnering on this vaccination clinic reflects how we can collaborate for the benefit of all people in our community — to help meet the urgent demand for vaccinations and get more people vaccinated quickly.”
Even though the new community clinic is now in place, there will still be other venues for receiving the vaccine, including some retail pharmacies and independent medical clinics.
"In addition to the community vaccination clinic, we’ll continue to support smaller points of distribution to help address access and equity barriers for our residents,” said Dr. Shames.
Josephine County is also working on a similar centralized process, with an online application form for vaccine appointments now available.
The Community COVID-19 Vaccination Clinic
Jackson County's community clinic will be run out of an Asante site that is already being used as a vaccination clinic, but it will be open to anyone eligible under Oregon's plan — not exclusively for Asante or Providence patients.
The clinic will not be open to walk-ins, and the partnership isn't releasing a precise address for that reason. People eligible to receive the vaccine can call (541) 789-2813, Option 2 (Opcion 3 en Español) to make an appointment, and the address will be provided at the time the appointment is made.
Availability of appointments will still heavily depend on the supply of vaccine doses in Jackson County, which may fluctuate by week.
There is no out-of-pocket cost for people getting vaccinated. Those with insurance will have their insurance billed with no co-pay collected. Those without insurance will not be charged.
Oregon's eligibility schedule
As of March 1, the following groups are eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccine in Oregon:
- Phase 1a - Healthcare workers, residents and staff of long-term care facilities, correctional staff and inmates, first responders.
- Phase 1b - Childcare providers, K-12 educators and staff, people 65 and older.
By March 29, Oregon's plan opens up eligibility to adults 45 and over with underlying health conditions, migrant and seasonal farm workers, seafood and agricultural workers, those living in low-income senior housing or congregate and independent living, those experiencing houselessness, those currently displaced by wildfires, and wildland firefighters.