Under pressure from federal officials, Oregon Governor Kate Brown announced on Tuesday that she will allow all Oregonians 65 and older to be eligible for COVID-19 vaccination starting January 23.
Brown also voluntarily stated that employees in childcare, preschool and K-12 schools will be allowed to start vaccination with the elderly.
Brown’s decision to expand vaccinations for older people in Oregon was in response to the US Secretary of Health and Human Services Alex Azar’s urging earlier in the day that all states begin to provide Americans over 65. As well as those who are at risk of potential diseases are offered vaccinations against the complications of COVID-1
In a press release on Tuesday, Brown did not resolve her plans for the Oregonians on potential terms, and the governor’s office did not immediately respond to requests for clarification. But it seems that people with underlying diseases will not be given priority immediately because Brown did not mention vaccination.
Brown said that there is only one warning for introducing vaccines to seniors and educators: the federal government has delivered more vaccines as promised. Charles Boyle, a spokesman for the governor’s office, said he doesn’t know how many more vaccines will be available in Oregon.
Brown said in a written statement: “Although this is an unexpected change by the federal government, it is welcome news for the states to receive more vaccines. Oregon is ready to invest all necessary resources to expand cooperation with us. Distribution of health care partners,”
Brown did not provide specific details as to where eligible Oregonians can be vaccinated. National leaders are still studying the information release system.
“If you are a newly vaccinated person in Oregon, then I have to be patient,” Brown continued. “Please do not call your doctor’s office or health care provider to ask questions about when the vaccine can be vaccinated. Today’s news arrives without prior notice from the federal government. Oregon health care providers are doing their best to change their vaccines. Distribution plan to accommodate this sudden change in the national guidelines.”
It is not clear how many residents the new expanded guidelines will include. Currently, the state has allowed approximately 500,000 Oregonians to be vaccinated as part of Phase 1a. It mainly includes medical staff and residents of long-term care facilities, but allows other personnel, including prison and prison staff and veterinary staff.
The governor did not disclose how many childcare, preschool and K-12 workers there are in the state. According to U.S. Census data, there are approximately 767,000 people over 65 in Oregon. Because they live in long-term care facilities, up to 21,000 people are already eligible for Phase 1a.
The massive increase in the number of qualified vaccinators will put tremendous pressure on the state’s already overburdened vaccination system. According to the state, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention stated that 321,425 doses of vaccines have been shipped to Oregon so far, of which 115,060 doses of Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines have become the embrace of residents. This means that approximately 36% of the available inventory has been used, which is a significant improvement from the 25% used a week ago.
However, the speed of vaccination was much lower than expected on December 16, when the first batch of vaccines had been injected to medical staff. The initial deployment in Oregon has been plagued by poor planning, but state officials say reforms are underway.
In the past week, an average of 7,600 doses were taken every day. The governor has set a goal of 12,000 per day until next week, but he acknowledged that the pace needs to be greatly accelerated in the coming weeks.
Patrick Allen, director of the Oregon Department of Health, said that 12,000 vaccines will be injected every day. By 2022, the two-dose program of the vaccine will vaccinate 70% of the state’s population (about 3 million people). Some public health experts say that the minimum necessary to achieve cattle immunity is 70%, which is a key point that seriously hinders the easy spread of the virus throughout the community.
This is a developing story. Please revisit OregonLive.com for updates.
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-Aimee Green; email@example.com; @o_aimee