Eligible vaccinators await answers to ‘logistical challenges’

Coronavirus

Oregon officials expanded the list of professionals eligible to administer COVID-19 vaccines under the PREP Act

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Veterinarians and dentists are among those who are now eligible to administer COVID-19 vaccines in Oregon.

The Oregon Health Authority expanded the list of professionals who can administer the vaccine as permitted under the federal Public Readiness and Emergency Preparedness Act. OHA Director Patrick Allen signed the authorization on March 22, making it immediately effective.

Dentists, optometrists, veterinarians and midwives, among others, can now give the shot alongside registered nurses and doctors. Even healthcare students in certain fields like optometry can administer COVID vaccines under supervision. A full list of medical professionals who are now eligible can be found at the bottom of this article.

But many questions still need to be answered regarding logistics and whether those on the list are intended to administer the shot in a private clinic. Dr. Jason Bajuscak, the owner of City Dental in Portland, said the expanded list of vaccinators is “exciting news” but he wonders where the vaccines will be administered.

“We’d love to help in any way we possibly can,” said Bajuscak. “I know right now you have the option of volunteering at some of these vaccination sites and clinics like at the Convention Center but until we have the storage capacity and a better understanding of how we are going to logistically administer the vaccine, it’s something we can’t, unfortunately, accomplish right now within our own office.”

City Dental in Portland. (KOIN)

Bajuscak said they also need clarification on how the vaccine will be stored if it’s to be administered at private clinics.

“Unless it’s a large facility, large clinic as far as private offices go, I would imagine it is going to still be some time until your dental practitioner is going to be administering a vaccine from within their clinic,” he said.

OHA Director Patrick Allen told KOIN 6 News the expanded list of vaccinators is more about reinforcing the healthcare workers who have already been giving the shots.

“The initial step is really who is able to vaccinate — it’s not where people can get vaccinations,” he said. “So think of it in terms of people can get involved with the health systems that are all for Oregon: Oregon Convention Center, State Fairgrounds — they always need people who are eligible and capable of doing vaccinations so this increases the supply of those folks.”

Allen also said the state will be able to consider whether certain providers have the proper setting to store and administer the vaccine from their clinic as vaccine supplies increase. For now, though, there will be no changes to the locations where people can get vaccinated. Allen said the conversation about whether people will eventually be able to get the shot at a dental office is “a ways down the road.”

“The authorization that I signed allows people who don’t have vaccinations in their scope of practice to be able to do that vaccination and if they’re not trained they need to do a really simple training,” said Allen. “We are developing guidance to put out right now so we should get detailed instructions out within the next couple of days for people to be able to figure out where they can get training, what the requirements are, any restrictions and how they can get involved.”

It’s unclear if if there will be enough supply to get more people vaccinated with the increase in health professionals now eligible to administer doses.

“I still see the limiting factor being that the supply of the vaccine itself,” said Bajuscak. “So unless we can actually get our hands on the vaccine, having the additional providers available is still going to be a logistical challenge there.”

On Wednesday, the OHA reported 1 million Oregonians had received at least one dose of a COVID vaccine. Nearly one in five Oregonians who are eligible have received at least one dose and more than 62% of people 65 and older have been vaccinated. Officials said they’re on track to vaccinate more than seven in 10 Oregonians 65 and older by March 29, which is when the next groups become eligible.

The newly eligible groups who can now administer COVID-19 vaccines include the following health professionals and health allied professionals who are currently licensed, certified or registered or had an active license, certification or registration within the last five years:

  • Certified nursing assistants (CNA)
  • Dentists
  • Direct entry midwives
  • Emergency medical services providers (EMT, AEMT, EMT Intermediate or Paramedic)
  • Naturopathic physicians (ND)
  • Nurses
  • Advanced practice registered nurses (APRN, includes nurse midwives)
  • Registered nurses (RN)
  • Licensed practical nurses (LPN)
  • Optometrists
  • Pharmacists, pharmacy interns and pharmacy technicians
  • Phlebotomists
  • Physicians (MDs and DOs)
  • Physician assistants
  • Podiatrists
  • Respiratory therapists
  • Traditional health workers
  • Veterinarians

Healthcare students (in these fields of study)

  • Dental
  • Emergency medical services providers (EMT, AEMT, EMT Intermediate or Paramedic)
  • Medical
  • Midwifery
  • Naturopathic medicine
  • Nursing (including CNA programs)
  • Optometry
  • Pharmacy and pharmacy intern
  • Physician assistant
  • Podiatry
  • Respiratory therapy
  • Veterinary

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