PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — An online group is helping people find and book COVID-19 vaccine appointments in the Portland metro area.
Oregon and Washington are expecting a shortage of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine due to manufacturing issues as many people continue to struggle to book vaccine appointments.
Enter the Portland Metro Vaccine Hunters.
Moderators of the Facebook group post about appointment openings and locations where people can get vaccinated in the Portland, Salem and Vancouver areas.
About 7,600 people are members of the group. It started with people who were looking for excess doses of COVID-19 vaccines that would otherwise go to waste. Group moderators use their skills in various fields from communications to healthcare to connect people to appointments and extra doses. Members of the group are encouraged to do the same by sharing tips and leads on vaccine appointments and extra doses.
“I am a secret shopper, I just go around and poke around at places and see who opened up appointments and tell people ‘hey, go here, this is available, these just opened,'” said Jeff McNamee, a moderator with Vaccine Hunters.
Another moderator, Sami Unrau, said it’s been “rewarding” to see the impact the group has had on helping people get the vaccine and read about their success stories.
McNamee said there are numerous open appointments at any given time but the trick is booking one quickly. He and other moderators encourage people who are still waiting to be persistent and flexible about which brand of vaccine they want and clinic locations.
There’s a similar group in Washington called “Find a COVID shot Washington.”
Each day about 35,000 Oregonians are getting a COVID vaccine shot. So far, about 20% of residents are fully vaccinated, which is a little above the national average.
Oregon state lawmakers learned Wednesday about an impending shortage of the single-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine due to a snarl in the manufacturing process. Oregon expects to receive 60,000 doses this week but only 8,000 next week.
Oregon and Washington will feel the impact of the shortage just as state health officials in both states open vaccine eligibility to everyone 16 and older. The federal government said there will be a boost in vaccine supplies in the near future but the timeline is unclear.