PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — The clock is ticking down as counties across Oregon strive to meet Governor Kate Brown’s vaccination challenge for easing restrictions.
Brown said Tuesday she is hoping to lift most COVID restrictions in the state once 70% of Oregonians ages 16 and older are vaccinated. As part of the new goal of having 70% of the state vaccinated, Brown said that once a county has 65% of the population with a first dose, they have the option to move to the lower risk category starting May 21. The county also must submit a plan for closing the vaccine equity gap next week.
About 49% of the adult population has had their first dose, with 36% of the population fully vaccinated.
Multnomah County is likely just days away from reaching the 65% benchmark with Washington County close behind. Both counties had surpassed 60% by Wednesday. Clackamas County had reached about 55%.
Local health leaders said the focus is now on people who want the vaccine but who need a more convenient place to walk in and get it, along with more flexible weekend and evening hours. Portland State University hosted its first vaccine clinic on Wednesday for students, staff and faculty despite classes still being taught remotely.
With mass vaccination clinics scheduled to shut down in a few weeks, Oregon counties are working to add more small clinics closer to areas where people live and work.
“We are going to need health systems, clinics and pharmacies to help work with us,” said Dr. Jennifer Vines, the lead health officer for the tri-county Portland metro region.
More vaccine clinics are launching in partnership with school districts as more students become eligible for the vaccine. The clinics will administer shots to students and their families. A drive-thru clinic will open at Oregon City High School on Thursday.