PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — As of Monday morning, a new phase of Oregon’s COVID-19 vaccination distribution plan is underway.
With the state now entering Phase 1b, teachers and school staff are eligible to get vaccinated. Governor Kate Brown says this is an effort to get kids back in the classroom sooner — though her office says teachers are not required to get the shot to come back to school.
In two weeks, people aged 80 and older will be eligible to get their shots. For those 65 and older, a date for eligibility is yet to be determined. It will be dependent on how many doses Oregon receives from the federal government.
According to the Oregon Health Authority, there are approximately 105,000 educators eligible for their shot. They also estimate there are nearly 800,000 people aged 65 and up who will need to be vaccinated as part of Phase 1b.
Because Oregon’s vaccine supply is limited, the OHA thinks it will take three to four months to vaccinate everyone in Phase 1b.
Last Friday, Gov. Brown defended her choice to vaccinate school staff and educators before seniors, saying it was a difficult choice.
“Time and time again, this pandemic has forced difficult choices,” she said during a Friday press conference. “School is so much more than a place kids go to learn.”
The difficult choice was compounded by the criticism that Oregon is falling behind in their vaccination rates – a detail that health officials dispute.
Oregon Health Authority’s Rachael Banks said Friday that the pace of Oregon’s rollout is either ahead of or on pace with other states. She said they are layering more people in line for the same number of doses, causing confusion.
There are about 700,000 seniors in Oregon. The group of teachers, staff and daycares is about 150,000. The governor said she has “prioritized protecting seniors” since the pandemic began, but kids need to be back in the classroom.
Oregon’s vaccine timeline
The Oregon Health Authority revealed a new timeline for the rollout. The timeline depends on the number of doses received.
Hundreds of people are now getting vaccinated at the Oregon Convention Center. They will run the clinic for as long as it is needed.
A new drive-thru COVID-19 vaccine center opened at Portland International Airport last week and on Sunday, healthcare workers administered nearly 1,000 vaccines to people with disabilities and their caregivers. The new vaccine center is at the Red Economy Lot at the airport. It’s a collaboration between the Port of Portland, Oregon Health & Sciences University, and the Red Cross.