PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — As of Monday, all Oregonians aged 16 and up are eligible for a COVID-19 vaccine.
While it’s a relief that the general public is now eligible — it may be tough to snag an appointment in the coming weeks. Demand is high and the pause on the Johnson and Johnson vaccine has caused a shortfall in the vaccine pipeline, according to Oregon Health Authority Director Patrick Allen.
With the pause, the state will have up to 70,000 fewer vaccine doses per week.
The good news is the doses from Pfizer and Moderna are still steadily coming in, with an upward of nearly 155,000 doses per week. That same level of supply will likely continue through early May.
“We will continue to see tight appointment availability in many parts of the state for the coming weeks, at least until we know more about the availability of the Johnson and Johnson vaccine,” Allen said. “However, we still expect to have enough vaccinations to vaccinate all Oregonians 16 and over before summer.”
According to State Epidemiologist Dr. Dean Sidelinger, new variants of COVID-19 in Oregon and social gatherings are contributing to an increase in cases and hospitalizations.
Health officials have connected many COVID-19 cases to these gatherings — like a recent multi-night karaoke event in Oregon that led to 36 cases, including three hospitalizations and one death. Sidelinger says an indoor concert at a small music venue and a separate backyard gathering also caused large numbers of people to become infected over the last few weeks, as well.
He says that while we race to reach herd immunity through vaccination, it’s another reminder that even small gatherings can have large consequences.
A local non-profit with 70 volunteers — all who cleared background checks — are helping people book appointments. Positive Charge PDX volunteers scour county, pharmacy and hospital websites and have booked more than 1300 shot appointments in the area.
“People have just been wearing themselves down trying to look on their own,” said Sallie Cohen with Positive Charge PDX. “I think our success is that we have many people dong this instead of one person doing it.”
In fact, 211 is referring callers to Positive Charge PDX to help book appointments.