PORTLAND, Ore. — People 65 years old and older are feeling a sense of relief after Governor Brown announced she was expanding the criteria to get a vaccine in Oregon.
“Vaccinations of seniors, child care providers, PK-12 educators, and staff will begin Jan. 23,” the governor tweeted.
The announcement comes on the same day the Trump administration asked states to vaccinate people 65 and older, and people younger than 65 who have underlying health conditions that put them at high risk of a severe reaction to the coronavirus.
KGW heard from dozens of seniors frustrated when Brown initially prioritized teachers instead of people 65 years and older as recommended by the Centers for Disease Control.
“We can't go to church, can't go see our family. My brother died in November. I couldn't go to his funeral. It's so hard. And I'm so tired of being alone,” said Eileen Clark.
Clark and six other viewers told KGW they felt relieved when they heard Brown was changing the rules.
"We've been in a glass prison since March. Everybody's at risk from this virus but seniors are doing most of the dying,” said Joe Shore.
According to data from the U.S. Census and estimates from the state there are 850,000 new people who will be eligible for the vaccine at the end of January.
Oregon has consistently been behind its own benchmarks and most other states when it comes to administering vaccines.
According to federal and state data, as of Wednesday, 325,000 doses of the vaccine have been distributed in Oregon and 129,781 doses have been administered. That's 34% of the vaccines being sent to Oregon actually put in arms.
“So, I just hope Oregon, well pick up the way, the pace we administer so we can get lots of vaccines. That's kind of my biggest worry is we seem to be not doing so well on that part,” said Sarah Thomas.
Brown asked for patience from people who will be newly eligible to get the vaccine.
“Please, do not call your doctor’s office,” the governor tweeted. “Know that health care providers are working as fast as humanly possible to shift their vaccine distribution plans to meet this sudden change in national guidance.”
The state is expected to release additional details about the plan on Friday.
Do you have a story idea or question about the vaccine process? Email Cristin at CallCristin@kgw.com