PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — During a Friday press conference, Governor Kate Brown said she expects 100,000 Oregonians to be vaccinated against COVID-19 by the end of the year and updated the timeline for the vaccine distribution.
“We have the policies and programs in place to vaccinate all Oregonians,” Brown said. “The vaccine wont save us from the pandemic, vaccinations will.”
Late Friday afternoon, the FDA authorized emergency use of Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine. In a statement, Brown said:
“In less than ten months since the first case of COVID-19 was identified in Oregon, the day is soon approaching when this vaccine and others will help us begin to return to normal life. For months, Oregonians have made tremendous sacrifices to protect each other and save lives. … The faster we can drive down the spread of COVID-19 in our communities, the sooner we can reopen our schools, our businesses, and begin to lift the restrictions that have kept us healthy and safe this year.”
During the press conference, Brown stressed that equity and equality was at the center of the plan to distribute the vaccine. She said 10,000 people would need to be immunized per day in order to reach 3 million Oregonians, the number that would achieve community immunity. She called on federal resources for help.
Brown said 360,000 healthcare workers will be the first to be vaccinated. An expected 147,000 doses of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines will arrive by the end of the year, but there are no other commitments from the federal government.
“State health officials have been enrolling provider sites so they can begin allocating vaccines within hours and days after they arrive. Hospitals will be primary sites of immunizations,” Brown said.
Some hospital groups confirmed they expect to see doses arrive as early as this weekend, though it may not be until the middle of next week before they begin to be administered.
But the first doses arriving in the next few days won’t even be enough to vaccinate all the health care workers in Oregon. And the governor’s office said Brown will not be in the first group for the vaccination but will instead await her turn.
There is growing concern from state health leaders about a recent survey that showed only 4-in-10 Oregonians said they would definitely get the vaccine.
On Friday, the Oregon Health Authority reported 1,611 new COVID-19 cases with record numbers of hospitalized patients.
“The upward trend is extremely worrisome,” Dr. Dean Sidelinger said during the press conference. He said hospitalizations have increased 70% since November.
Oregon, however, has some of the lowest case rates in the country, Sidelinger said.
‘Unpredictable, terrifying disease’
Gov. Brown invited a Southeast Portland mother who has battled COVID since March to talk about what it was like.
Darrah Isaacson said she was a healthy active hiker and skier with no health issues until getting the coronavirus on her 40th birthday.
“This is an unpredictable, terrifying disease. It’s been almost 10 months since I contracted the virus. I am still alive, thankfully, but it’s turned my life upside down,” Isaacson said. “I still have a wide range of symptoms affecting my heart, my lungs, my brain.”