PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Some groups not currently eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine in Oregon are being vaccinated in Washington, leading some people to cross state lines in the hopes of getting the shot.
The state of Washington is now vaccinating people in the first tier of Phase 1B. This means people 65 and older and people 50 and older who live in multigenerational housing are now eligible, along with those from Phase 1A.
A mass vaccination clinic is now open at the Clark County Fairgrounds to help administer the vaccine to these new groups. The clinic, which is open for the next five weeks, is by appointment-only.
As of Tuesday, the clinic was booked out through the week but still had openings available for the next few weeks.
The groups who fall into the first tier of Phase 1B in Washington can’t yet get the vaccine in Oregon. KOIN 6 News has received reports of people crossing state lines to get their vaccine earlier.
“We’re not at this point encouraging people to go across the state line to get the vaccine but we’re also not really quibbling over those things,” said Lauren Jenks, the assistant secretary for the Washington State Department of Health. “If you’re eligible in Washington and it was obviously easy for you to get here so we may as well vaccinate you as long as you have an appointment and meet our eligibility for criteria.”
Jenks said they’re not asking people where they live or work. If someone has an appointment and they’re eligible under Washington’s current criteria, that’s enough to get a vaccine in the state.
Michael Sprague, a 70-year-old veteran, lives in Oregon but got his first shot of the COVID-19 vaccine in Washington through the VA. He said he was only able to get the vaccine so soon because he’s a veteran.
“Oh, I’d still be waiting, I’d probably be waiting another 10 to 12 weeks I’m guessing at this point,” he said.
The Oregon Health Authority said people should get vaccinated in the state they live in, not where they work, with the exception of people who are eligible for the vaccine because of their job in Oregon such as healthcare workers or teachers.
The Washington State Department of Health responded to reports of people crossing state lines and said: “Oregon and Washington are taking different approaches to vaccine prioritization, but agree on one thing: people need to get vaccinated in the state where they live and work. The federal government allocates vaccine doses to states based on population size, and right now, neither state has enough for everyone who needs one. We only have vaccine for those living or working in Washington. We are relying on the honor system to get us through these phases in an equitable way, and that means trusting that people will not cross state lines into Washington for the purpose of getting vaccinated. Please stop coming if you do not live or work in Washington. We do not have vaccine for you.”
Vaccinations at the Clark County Fairgrounds are by appointment only for those who are pre-registered and eligible for the vaccine under Washington’s Phase 1a or 1b-1. Open Tuesdays through Fridays from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Click here to make an appointment at Ridgefield or call 1.800.525.0127, then press #.