PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — The first healthcare workers in Oregon were given the Pfizer COVID vaccine on Wednesday morning at Legacy Emmanuel Medical Center.
Governor Brown held a press conference at the same time, delivering remarks ahead of the historical moment. Vaccines were also administered to frontline workers at Oregon Health & Science University and Saint Alphonsus in Ontario.
Brown applauded the effort but urged Oregonians to continue to protect themselves from the virus.
“This is truly the moment we have all been waiting for,” the governor said Wednesday. “Until vaccines are wildly available, and people are vaccinated and we’ve achieved community immunity, we need every Oregonian to keep up the measures to protect themselves and family members,” — that is washing hands, maintaining social distance, avoid gatherings, stay home if you’re sick and wear a mask.
“We’re going to move ask quickly as possible, assuming we continue to receive these vaccines from the federal government,” she said.
The vaccine began arriving in Oregon on Monday. Kaiser Permanente, which has several freezers to hold well over 200,000 doses, will be a designated distribution site to supply the Pfizer vaccine to other providers.
OHA Director Pat Allen said Oregon has received 5800 doses so far. More doses are expected to arrive next week and the week after, he said.
PeaceHealth began vaccines at 9 a.m.
The governor’s press conference came a mere hours after the PeaceHealth Southwest Medical Center administered its first vaccines to two caregivers at 9 a.m. The Vancouver medical center has received nearly 4,000 doses of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine, which will be distributed in both Clark and Cowlitz counties. Vaccines are set to be administered in Oregon later in the day.
Schaeffer Seabrook, RN of PeaceHealth was the first to receive the shot. When asked if she had any anxiety going into today, she said, “I think there’s just the general fear of the unknown, but i think as long as you’re well educated you know this is the next step in this journey and there’s confidence in that, which helped me overcome it.”
Seabrook has been working primarily on the in-patient COVID-19 floors throughout the pandemic. She says with numbers rising, it has felt like what they’ve been doing simply isn’t working. Yet, she believes this vaccine is a step in the right direction.
“I’m stoked, I think it’s great,” she said. “If I’m going to tell people to get it — I have to get it, right? I’m really excited.”
Next up was Emergency Physician and PeaceHealth Southwest Chief of Staff, Ray Lee, MD.
“It feels incredible, it’s momentous. It’s also a bittersweet with so much suffering and sorrow going on, to have this happening — emotionally, it feels very intense.” Lee said. “This marks a turning of the tide.”
‘Turning the tide of this virus’
“With yesterday’s shipment, we can finally begin the turn the tide of this virus,” said Dr. Edwards with OHSU. “Through the heartbreak and sacrifice of the past 10 months, our frontline healthcare workers have demonstrated incredible resilience and never let us down.”
The vaccinations come just one day after Oregon set a record high for COVID-related deaths: 54, bringing the overall death toll during the pandemic to 1214. As of late Tuesday, Oregon has had 96,092 confirmed/presumptive cases of the novel coronavirus since the outbreak began.