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Portland-area hospitals plan for mass COVID-19 vaccinations

Several counties have asked for the Oregon National Guard's assistance with vaccination efforts.

PORTLAND, Ore. — Oregon Gov. Kate brown toured the Jackman Long building at the Oregon State Fairgrounds in Salem Wednesday to see the mass vaccination operation underway by Salem Health.

“This honestly is a star for Oregon right now,” Gov. Brown said, referring to the hall full of people getting COVID-19 shots.

We will likely see more events like this around the state, especially now that the governor has opened the next group of those getting shots to anyone 65 and older as well as teachers.

According to the Census Bureau, Oregon has 767,000 people ages 65 and older.

"This is a very replicable model and hopefully one we can replicate in Portland and Southern Oregon and Central Oregon,” Brown said.

Just how the mass vaccination events will happen is anybody's guess at the moment. 

Roughly 10 counties have asked the state for help by filing requests with Oregon Emergency Management, according to a spokeswoman.

Marion County asked for 40 National Guard members who can give vaccines. Those are the soldiers working with Salem Health. Another 15 members of the guard are helping with traffic and administrative tasks.

RELATED: Oregon expanding COVID-19 vaccine eligibility to people 65 and older beginning Jan. 23

Josephine and Jackson counties have asked for mass vaccination space and guardsmen to give shots, monitor quality control and provide security.

Douglas, Deschutes and Clackamas counties also asked for National Guard support for events.

Wasco County asked for a facility where they can do a mass vaccination event.

Multnomah County filed a request sent to them by Kaiser Permanente for National Guard support.

Kaiser plans to begin mass vaccinations at the Oregon Convention Center next week, said spokesman Michael Foley. The events will involve people in phase 1a of the state's vaccine distribution plan and will not be open to the public.

Portland's biggest hospitals are working together now to help get as many shots as possible to people in the 1a category.

RELATED: Portland Public Schools hoping for limited reopening as soon as Jan. 25

Spokeswoman Tamara Hargens-Bradley with Oregon Health & Science University (OHSU) said the hospital will continue its drive-through clinic that opened for the first time last weekend.

“This weekend, OHSU again will host invite-only, drive-through COVID-19 vaccination clinics for approximately 3,000 SEIU 503 and independent home health care workers, first responders and community health workers who are in phase 1A," Hargens-Bradley said.  

"Last weekend, OHSU employees across all missions volunteered to help direct, register, vaccinate and monitor 2,194 of these frontline workers at our Hillsboro Stadium and Convention Center testing sites,” she added. 

The governor’s announcement Tuesday caught many off guard. The hospitals are working to figure out how and where they can operate mass vaccination sites in the Portland area, according to the CEO of the Oregon Association of Hospitals and Health Systems, Becky Hultberg.

“They are moving toward mass vaccination sites," said Hultberg. "Again, I think details will be coming on those sites. It will be really important, though, that people not just show up at these sites once they are available. We are probably going to be using a scheduling model because there are so many people eligible in the 65-plus age cohort that we can’t simply can’t just have everyone show up."

Gov. Brown promised more details on Friday. And in the meantime, she and others ask that if you are 65 and older, do not call your doctor asking where and when you can get vaccinated. They don’t know yet as it's still being worked out.

RELATED: VERIFY: What happens if your second COVID vaccine shot is delayed?

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