PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Teachers in the Portland area started to get the COVID-19 vaccine on Wednesday as state leaders push to get kids back in schools.
A little over 3,000 educators and school-related workers were getting their first doses at the Oregon Convention Center where Legacy Health, Providence, OHSU and Kaiser Permanente are running an appointment-only mass vaccination clinic.
Those local hospital groups confirmed they were ordered by the Oregon Health Authority to administer most of the vaccine doses arriving this week to educators, not healthcare workers.
Healthcare workers were, until this week, at the front of the line to receive the shot. But the state entered Phase 1b on Monday, meaning teachers and school staff are eligible to get vaccinated. Governor Kate Brown says this is an effort to get kids back in the classroom sooner — though her office says teachers are not required to get the shot to come back to school.
No medical groups involved in the vaccination process appear to be challenging Brown’s decision that pushed tens of thousands of healthcare workers out of line. In a tweet posted Wednesday afternoon, Brown announced more vaccine shipments would be set aside for Phase 1a groups.
Health care workers and Phase 1a individuals across the state have always been my top priority for vaccination. Next week, I am committing over 17,000 doses to the Portland tri-county region for health care workers and priority 1a populations, plus 15,000 doses for educators. That’s currently about 60% of the ~53,000 first doses to be sent around the state next week, reflecting the large number of health care workers and individuals from vulnerable populations in the region. Other counties have done a fantastic job and have finished their first round of vaccines for Phase 1a populations, and we will push to give first doses to all Phase 1a individuals statewide before February 8.Gov. Kate Brown via Twitter
According to the OHA, there are approximately 105,000 educators eligible for their shot. It’s expected to take three to four weeks to vaccinate all Portland-area teachers.
Information about current vaccine eligibility in Oregon is online: covidvaccine.oregon.gov
The OHA also estimates there are nearly 800,000 people aged 65 and up who will need to be vaccinated as part of Phase 1b. Because Oregon’s vaccine supply is limited, the OHA thinks it will take three to four months to vaccinate everyone in Phase 1b.
Starting Feb. 8, people aged 80 and older will be eligible to get their shots. For those 65 and older, a date for eligibility is yet to be determined. It will be dependent on how many doses Oregon receives from the federal government.
Some counties in Oregon have already moved on to vaccinating seniors.