PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — At a Friday press conference, Gov. Kate Brown and Oregon health officials said there is a 3-week window to prepare for a COVID surge from the omicron variant. The governor announced the state aims to administer booster shots to a million Oregonians by the end of January, which health officials echoed is an attainable goal.
On Saturday, Multnomah County health officer Dr. Jennifer Vines was at her office working on plans to get booster shots into arms the best and most efficient way possible.
She said the county is figuring out where they are going to put their resources and may know as early as Wednesday.
“We are working over the weekend talking about how to roll out boosters, roll out first- and second doses to people who are due for those and I think the state, as well, announced plans to make boosters more available in more places,” Vines told KOIN 6 News. “So we have a short window to act before omicron becomes dominant and spreads superfast, so this is not something for people to kind of forget about after the New Year.”
This weekend Vines and health department officials are beginning to figure out where to put resources around Multnomah County.
“The state has some vaccine clinics and things are sort of shifting right now,” she said. “But the priority is really clear to be as easy as possible for people to get their booster or to get any vaccine dose that they’re eligible for in the next 2-4 weeks, and sooner is better.”
Officials will likely be posting information about where and how to get a booster by the middle of next week, she said. “So this is really time to pay attention and to make sure you have a plan to get yourself and your household vaccinated.”
Whether the booster clinics are more temporary or more permanent is also under discussion.
“That’s part of our planning is to see where do we need to reach people, how do we best reach them in a way that works for them and then how do we set up clinics or potential outreach teams to get to them. So, again, all this is in the planning stages,” she said.
There are a few things the public can do to help. One is to pay attention to the options that will be announced on booster availability in the next few days and weeks.
Two other things the public can do is to make sure those who are most vulnerable to COVID — older people and anyone with an underlying condition — are vaccinated and boosted if the timing is right for them.
The third thing is for people to have a 2-week supply of essentials — food, medicines, pet supplies — in case supply chain disruptions continue to affect goods and services.
Dr. Vines noted that with winter weather here and more people staying indoors, the chance for transmission can increase — leading to a potentially serious situation for hospitals.
“People can also remember that we’re in winter weather and are looking at a very potentially serious situation with our hospitals over the course of the winter,” Vines said. “Just knowing that we’re going to be in a potentially difficult time with COVID in the weeks to come, and also with the winter weather.”
And if people need to be sure the information they’re getting for COVID resources is the most reliable and up-to-date, Vines recommended people check their local county health department website, the Oregon Health Authority website and 211.