MEDFORD, Ore. -- Representatives from FEMA, the state of Oregon, and local agencies held a conference with reporters on Thursday about the new Community Vaccination Center (CVC) that will kick off in Jackson County next week.
The CVC is the first of its kind in Oregon and it will focus on reaching hard-to-reach and under-served populations. It will also provide some much-needed relief to our local health workers.
“The people that are providing the support to those most in need are tired,” said Jackson County Emergency Operations Manager, John Vial.
Jackson County Emergency Management says local resources are stretched thin and have been for the past year. Now, they will get some much-needed help in the fight to vaccinate Southern Oregon.
“The state of Oregon requested and FEMA selected Jackson county as a location for the vaccine for to expand vaccine services, to rural and our aggregate agricultural communities, unsheltered populations, and those displaced by wildfires,” said Jana Mclellan, Director for the COVID-19 Response & Recovery with the Oregon Health Authority, “This Expo location was selected as a pilot site, based on a number of factors; it is centrally located to also support vaccination efforts for Josephine and Klamath counties, additionally, the Expo, is known to be a prominent and well loved, site in this community and will be easy for people to access.”
Starting April 19, all Oregonians over the age of 16 are eligible for the vaccine. The goal of the CVC will be to vaccinate as many people as possible within 8 weeks, with a focus on reaching those who have been disproportionately impacted by the pandemic.
“We must continue our work to ensure vaccine access to communities of color across the state. Let me repeat myself, we must continue our work to ensure vaccine access to brown and black skin to community members across the state,” said Mclellan.
The CVC will bring in an additional 1,000 doses of the Pfizer vaccine each day and will be open seven days a week for eight weeks. It will provide a drive-through clinic, bolster the current walk-in clinic at the Jackson County Expo and it will also provide a mobile unit that will go out into the community.
Right now, a work group of local organizations is evaluating where the mobile unit should go.
“These are grassroots organizations like Unete, Rogue Community Health and LaClinica are all a part of that,” said Tanya Phillips, Health Promotion Manager with Jackson County Public Health, “Oregon Health Authority and those community groups are working together to look at all of the different sites to place the mobile units.”
Some of the potential mobile sites include businesses near farms to reach agricultural workers and hotels where fire victims are staying. There are conversations about potentially sending the mobile unit into Josephine and Klamath counties as well.
“We have seen people who are more privileged, have access to technology, know how to use it, they get the appointments first,” said Phillips, “Our working population, people of color, they don't have those resources so it will be important when we have these mobile sites that they are a priority and some of those competing factors be pushed out so that they have access to the vaccine.”
The CVC will have a soft opening on Tuesday, April 20 with a hard opening on Wednesday, April 21.