PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Oregon Gov. Kate Brown and state health officials announced details surrounding the state’s COVID-19 vaccine distribution plan and expected timeline on Friday.
Brown and the Oregon Health Authority announced that pending FDA approval, 147,000 first doses and 119,450 second doses of vaccines will be coming to Oregon within weeks. However, Brown and health officials continued to implore Oregonians to hunker down and keep doing everything within their power to mitigate spread, because while there is finally light at the end of the tunnel, Oregonians are not out of the woods just yet.
“Times are really tough right now, not only in Oregon but across the country. I’ve said this before, but it needs to be said again: we are not out of this crisis yet,” Brown said. “In fact, our hardest days lie ahead. Our hospitals are filling up and many are reducing elective surgeries.”
During Friday’s press conference, state officials announced Oregon reached a grim milestone after 30 more deaths resulted in a statewide death toll of more than 1,000 and more than 2,100 new confirmed and presumptive cases resulted in more than 80,000 cases since late February when the state’s first COVID-19 case was confirmed.
However, help is on the way. Brown announced details of both Pfizer and Moderna vaccines expected to be shipped to Oregon within the month.
“Our federal partners tell us pending approval, Oregon will be receiving 25,000 doses of the Pfizer vaccine, shipping December 15. The following week, approximately 71,000 doses of the Moderna vaccine will be on its way,” Brown said.
Brown said once a vaccine is approved by the FDA, she “will certainly be ready to take it.”
“With the pandemic right now and into the foreseeable future, the only way to reduce the transmission and slow the spread is to take precautions until the vaccine is both widely available and widely administered — this is going to take time,” she continued.
“I know these are the vaccines we have all been waiting for and as we work across Oregon and the entire country to get them widely distributed, I am asking you all to buckle down for just a little bit longer. We can finally see the light at the end of the tunnel, but we are certainly not there yet.”
The governor was joined by Dr. Patrick Allen, Oregon Health Authority director; Rachael Bankes, OHA public health division director; and Dr. Dean Sidelinger, Oregon’s state epidemiologist.
Dr. Allen spoke directly after Brown, going into detail on the numbers expected for both the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines coming to the state.
“The first vaccine, made by Pfizer and BioNTech, was found to be 95% effective in preventing COVID,” he said. “If all goes as expected, the first shipment of 35,100 first doses will be shipped to Oregon on December 15. A second shipment of 40,950 first doses is expected to be sent on December 22.
“The second vaccine, made by Moderna, was found to be 94.5% effective in a Phase 3 clinical study and is set for consideration by VRBPAC on December 17. If the vaccine is ultimately approved, we expect to see 71,900 first doses shipped to Oregon on December 22.”
That is a total of 147,000 first dose vaccines in Oregon in December. Furthermore, it is anticipated an additional 87,750 doses of the Pfizer vaccine and an additional 31,700 doses of the Moderna vaccine will be shipped on December 29 to begin providing second doses.
“This is no doubt terrific news. I want to emphasize OHA will be fully transparent about shipments of vaccines we receive. We’ll keep Oregonians informed every step of the way as our federal partners and manufacturers distribute the vaccine nationwide,” Dr. Allen said. “OHA staff, in concert with Governor Brown’s office, have been working with local public health authorities, providers and health systems, community-based organizations and other critical partners around the state to implement our state’s vaccine distribution plan.”
That distribution plan includes enrolling vaccine provider sites in the COVID-19 vaccination program, so the state can begin allocating doses of the vaccines to those locations within days after their arrival. Hospitals will be the primary sites for immunization of the first group of recipients — referred to as the “1a group” — which includes “health care workers, first responders, workers in long-term care facilities and congregate care settings, and long-term care facility residents.”
“Guidelines for prioritizing ensuing Phase 1 groups, such as essential workers, adults with high-risk medical conditions and adults 65 and older, are still under development,” Allen said.
KOIN 6 Reporter Lisa Balick asked how people can expect to get in the queue for receiving the vaccine. Allen said to not think of it in terms of a line — it will be a while before the vaccine is available to regular Oregonians.
“What I would do is keep your ears open, we’ll provide info on our website about what categories we’re currently distributing to.”
Rachael Banks explained the distribution will initially be provided through hospitals but it will eventually be delivered through a variety of channels, including local public health authorities, tribal clinics, open pods and community clinics.
“There will be multiple ways for folks to get vaccinated once that vaccination gets to the general public,” she said.
Also at the press conference, Brown announced another record number of infections yet again. Over 2,100 cases and 30 deaths were recorded — the fourth straight day of double-digit deaths.
“[Data shows] many of you are taking the right steps to stop this disease. Ten months into this pandemic, when we are all so incredibly tired of dealing with COVID-19 the data is showing that the majority of Oregonians are listening. To every one of you who continues to make smart choices and follow our public health recommendations that stop this disease from spreading further — thank you, thank you,” she said. “I know it’s exhausting and the sacrifices are real… We just need to you hold out a little bit longer because hope is on the way.”
The state’s two-week-long freeze was lifted Thursday, though many counties remain under limitations set forth by Brown’s four-tiered Risk and Protection Framework for COVID-19. Counties are categorized by risk level: Extreme Risk, High Risk, Moderate Risk and Lower Risk. Different health measures apply to each category.