PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Despite news of a vaccine shortage, Oregon Gov. Kate Brown said they will start vaccinating educators and school staff on Jan. 25.
Oregon’s most vulnerable population, those 80 years and older, will begin vaccinations on February 8. A new plan revealed Friday will vaccinate seniors in 4 waves: 80 years and older, 75 and older, 70 and older and 65 and older. The waves will continue each week following Feb. 8 as doses permit.
They hope to vaccinate this population, 700,000 people, in about 12 weeks.
“We have more interest than vaccines available,” OHA’s Pat Allen said.
Early Friday Brown announced that Oregon will not be receiving an increase in vaccine shipments next week. Operation Warp Speed’s General Perna confirmed to her that states will not be receiving increased shipments of COVID-19 vaccine doses from the federal stockpile as previously expected.
She said this is because there is no federal reserve of doses. Brown demanded answers from the Trump administration, calling this a “deception on the national scale.”
“Let me assure you Oregon’s priorities have not changed. I remain committed to vaccinating seniors quickly,” she said.
“I am shocked and appalled that they have set an expectation on which they could not deliver, with such grave consequences,” Brown said. “Oregon’s seniors, teachers, all of us, were depending on the promise of Oregon’s share of the federal reserve of vaccines being released to us.”
Allen was so dismayed by the news, he penned a letter to U.S. DHS Secretary Alex Azar.
In part, the letter read, “Earlier this evening, I joined a call with Governor Kate Brown and General Gustave Perna with Operation Warp Speed. During that call, he informed us there is no reserve of doses, and we are already receiving the full allocation of vaccines. If true, this is extremely disturbing, and puts our plans to expand eligibility at grave risk. Those plans were made on the basis of reliance on your statement about “releasing the entire supply” you have in reserve. If this information is accurate, we will be unable to begin vaccinating our vulnerable seniors on January 23rd as planned.”
Read the full letter at the bottom of this article.
Oregon Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum also expressed her shock over the news and said an investigation would be underway.
“It is almost hard to believe that even a year into the federal government’s disastrous mismanagement of a deadly pandemic that has taken the lives of more than 350,000 Americans, the Trump Administration can still find ways to shock us,” Rosenblum wrote in a statement. “We are working with Oregon’s Governor and our state partners to investigate why HHS officials promised the delivery of vaccine doses from a nonexistent stockpile. We will fight to make good on the promises they made—and have now broken—to millions of Americans.”
Oregon Senator Ron Wyden had a strong reaction as well, saying the news is completely unacceptable. Representative Kurt Schrader echoed Wyden’s demand for answers, tweeting that Operation Warp Speed did not state that there was no federal reserve of doses.
Earlier in the week, Brown toured the Oregon State Fairgrounds where Salem Health and the Oregon National Guard teamed up for the state’s first mass vaccination clinic. The governor watched as the Guard gave shots to Marion County healthcare workers. Oregon is still trying to work through the tens of thousands of healthcare workers and first responders who are first in line to receive the vaccine.
A total of 146,137 first and second doses of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines had been administered across Oregon by Thursday. All of the doses have been administered by Oregon hospitals, long-term care centers, emergency medical service agencies, urgent care facilities and Local Public Health Authorities.
The OHA has not yet released concrete details on who will be included in the next vaccination phase. The Vaccine Advisory Committee on Thursday released its recommendations for who should get the shot next: BIPOC communities, refugees, adults 16-64 with chronic conditions, adults and youth eligible for the vaccine who are in custody, frontline workers not included in Phase 1A and 1B, multi-generational homes and low-income senior housing.
Full letter to U.S. DHS Secretary Azar from OHA Director Patrick Allen