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School vaccine clinic in Molalla shut down over concerns about 'bribing' teens

The mayor of Molalla urged school and county officials to shut down a COVID-19 vaccine clinic at Molalla High School because recipients were offered gift cards.

MOLALLA, Ore. — A COVID-19 vaccine clinic scheduled to be held at Molalla High School was canceled after pressure from the mayor of Molalla. 

The clinic, run by Clackamas Public Health, was scheduled for Aug. 23, followed by another clinic for second doses on Sept. 13. It was set to follow a series of vaccine clinic that had been held at the high school since June. The clinic was open to anyone who needed a vaccine, and offered a $50 gift card voucher to vaccine recipients.

But Molalla Mayor Scott Keyser, who unabashedly announced his own unvaccinated status on a Facebook Live video, said he didn't think teenagers should be able to receive the gift cards for getting vaccinated, and the public high school should not be the grounds for a clinic offering the incentive. 

"My issue with the whole thing was the county giving $50 to kids to get the shot," he said. "I don't believe people should be bribed to get the shot, especially children. We need to be in control of what goes into our children, and we need to be informed of what our kids are doing, and this isn't right."

Under Oregon law, teens as young as 15 can consent to medical procedures, including vaccines, without their parents consent or knowledge. 

At a Clackamas County Board of Commissioners meeting on Thursday, people expressed concern that teens were going behind their parents' backs to get vaccinated and hiding their vaccine cards from them.

Mayor Keyser said he went to Clackamas County Commissioner Mark Shull and the Molalla River School Board to try and get the vaccine clinic shut down. Tony Mann, the superintendent of the Molalla River School District, told KGW that the decision ultimately came from him. 

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"I learned this clinic planned to include financial incentives to teens to be vaccinated without parent consent. Providing a financial incentive may encourage some adolescents to go around their parent/guardian which is not aligned with the values of the District. It was for this reason that the District canceled the county's use of our facilities," Mann wrote in an email to KGW. 

Only 43% of people in Molalla were vaccinated as of Aug. 19, according to data from the Oregon Health Authority. One in 15 people in the town have had COVID-19, and in Clackamas County as a whole, daily cases rates jumped from an average of 14 in July to 269 in August. As of Friday, Aug. 20, 60% of Clackamas County residents had gotten at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine.

Clackamas County Public Information Officer Kimberly Dinwiddie said Clackamas County Public Health and the Molalla River School District both agreed to cancel the vaccination events. She said they would like to take time to address concerns expressed by the community, and to work with community leaders on the best way to offer a vaccine to the Molalla community.

In Molalla, vaccines are available at the Safeway pharmacy on W. Main St. or at Providence Medical Clinic on Center Ave. on Fridays from 4 to 7 p.m.