PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — The director of the Oregon Health Authority told lawmakers this week to expect some “chaos” as the state enters into Phase 1B of the COVID-19 vaccine rollout.
“Every state that has opened to seniors has had some form of chaos on its hands and I want to be completely transparent: we are going to have some form of chaos on our hands, too,” Director Patrick Allen said Wednesday.
Allen pointed to the massive number of seniors who will start to become eligible over the coming weeks compared to the number of vaccines on hand if the weekly supply from the federal government and pharmaceutical companies doesn’t increase.
The OHA director said the state has managed to “reasonably” pace the number of people eligible for the vaccine with the number of doses available until now.
“Now we’re going to open up a really, really big gap,” said Allen.
Some people who have already received the vaccine found the process to be relatively straightforward. Such was the case for Meals on Wheels volunteers Bernice Duckrow and Donna Faith Eldredge. Duckrow got a vaccine at the Polk County Fairgrounds while Eldredge went on Salem Health’s website and made an appointment at Western Oregon University.
“I could check to see where any of the sites were open for Polk or Marion county,” explained Eldredge.
“I got an appointment, filled out the forms online,” said Duckrow. “They gave me a comeback appointment for a month later.”
Oregon will officially enter into Phase 1B on Monday, starting with people 80 and older. Allen said he expects phone lines to become overwhelmed and scheduling sites to experience challenges.
Eldredge said whether-or-not the process is smooth for other older adults may depend on how savvy they are when it comes to navigating the internet.