OREGON, USA — The Oregon Health Authority (OHA) is working with providers to supply doses of the COVID-19 vaccine, newly approved by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for children ages 5-11.
The OHA responded to KGW via email Monday, confirming there is "significantly more" vaccine available for the 5-11 population than there was for the adult population last December. That's when the COVID-19 vaccine was first available.
"We don’t expect to experience the same degree of scarcity as we experienced then," said OHA spokesperson Tim Heider. "But the immediately available quantities may be limited over the next week or so and vaccine is being carefully allocated among providers, populations, and geography."
The OHA estimated that supply will keep up with demand or catch up within the coming weeks.
More than 350 pharmacies, public health clinics, primary care clinics, community health centers, hospitals, and school-based health centers are receiving or will receive their first doses.
The OHA said distribution is based on provider requests, organization type and projected capacity.
"The doses that Oregon has coming as an initial supply are anticipated to meet our needs for four to six weeks, and the state has been assured of access to tens of thousands of additional doses on a routine weekly distribution cadence beginning this week," Heider said.
The OHA encouraged families to find appointments or drop-in services by checking with their primary care providers, local pharmacies or through Oregon's online vaccine finder. That website allows parents to register for announcements about vaccine events.
Various schools, churches and public health agencies are also providing vaccine clinics.
The OHA said challenges over the last year through the original vaccine rollout have helped improve the experience this time for child vaccinations.
"The distribution infrastructure established since then [makes] vaccine much more readily available," Heider said.
Heider noted Oregon is now trending in the right direction through the pandemic.
"...Looking far more optimistic than even a month ago," he said "We are seeing a slow but steady decline in daily cases and hospitalizations in recent weeks."
However, the OHA said the delta variant remains an ongoing threat. It urged everyone to maintain mask use, good hand hygiene and physical distancing. Ultimately, vaccination against COVID-19 is the most effective tool, according to the OHA.
"We know it’s natural to have questions about vaccinating your child," Heider said. "We encourage parents to talk with their health care provider so they can make an informed decision."
KGW's sister station in Seattle, KING 5, also compiled ways parents in western Washington can get children vaccinated.
The U.S. Surgeon General told KGW last week, the COVID-19 vaccine is proven safe for children and 90% effective at preventing symptomatic infection.