‘It’s going to take many months to get all Oregonians vaccinated’

Coronavirus

"I think fall is a reasonable target"

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — It’s going to be many months before all Oregonians are vaccinated, health officials said on Friday during a press conference.

“I think fall is a reasonable target,” OHA Director Pat Allen about herd immunity. He blamed the optimism of the federal government for misleading people over when they will be eligible to get the vaccine.

A member of the US Army administers a COVID vaccine shot, January 2021 (DVIDS)

“This is going to take a while. I think it’s been challenging for people to hear that messaging from us, when the federal government has been much more optimistic in their messaging,” Allen said.

“Unless many more vaccines are approved, or much much more production comes online, or more doses are purchased from manufacturers. Again, I’ll be really clear, this is going to take a while.”

Governor Kate Brown added that she is deploying the National Guard to help with vaccine distribution. They will start helping at a vaccine clinic this weekend in Salem, where the goal is to vaccinate 250 people per hour.

Just over 73,000 Oregonians have been vaccinated so far. Oregon remains “in the middle of the pack” in the nation in the rollout, Allen said.

Governor Brown has set a goal of vaccinating 12,000 people per day by the end of next week. Allen said they are actively working towards reaching the goal.

“I want to be clear. OHA allocates vaccines to sites, but they are shipped directly to the locations. These vaccines don’t pass through OHA. We know many partners are working to enter their data, but many have experienced data under reporting issues. That’s affecting Oregon’s statewide total to date.”

OHA called 100 sites yesterday to clarify some of the data issues. They adjusted how they allocate, prioritizing those who can deliver more.

Federal pharmacy partners will receive vaccines next week, Allen said. Retail pharmacies will also soon participate, as soon as next week.

Allen said the statewide transmission rate fell to .8 from mid-November to December but then increased. As of December 23, it went up to 1.14 – 1.15.

“We could continue to see sharp increase in cases,” Allen said, with a possible 1,780 cases per day by January 26 if rate doesn’t increase from holiday gatherings.

Mask use remains at an “all-time high,” Allen said.

Colt Gill, the Director of the Oregon Education Department, also spoke during Friday’s press conference, expressing optimism that schools will soon be able to return to in-person learning.

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