PORTLAND, Ore. — A day after the three counties that make up the Portland metro area announced it could take months to vaccinate everyone in Phase 1a, Gov. Brown said she is sending more COVID-19 vaccine doses to the area next week.
The governor made the announcement on Twitter Wednesday afternoon, saying the state is sending 17,000 more vaccine doses to Multnomah, Washington and Clackamas counties, which make up the tri-county region. The 17,000 doses will be allocated for people in the high-priority Phase 1a eligible group, Brown said.
The extra 17,000 doses are in addition to the 15,000 doses already earmarked to be sent next week for educators in the tri-county area.
The decision to send more doses to the Portland metro area came after public health officials from Multnomah, Clackamas and Washington counties told the state that while several other counties had already completed first dose vaccinations of people in Phase 1a, there were still not enough available doses to vaccinate the tens of thousands of Phase 1a eligible people in the metro counties.
“We want to thank Gov. Brown and the Oregon Health Authority for hearing our concerns and responding to the unique challenges of vaccinating the very large eligible groups in the state’s health care and education hubs in and around Portland,’’ Multnomah County Chair Deborah Kafoury said. “We know vaccines are in short supply, and we need to work together to prevent severe illness and death.”
KGW’s Cristin Severance reports 50,000 Phase 1a eligible people in the metro area still need first dose shots of the coronavirus vaccine.
Brown said the 32,000 total doses being sent to metro counties next week make up about 60% of the 53,000 first dose vaccines being sent across the state, which she said “reflects the large number of health care workers and individuals from vulnerable populations in the region.”
Other counties have finished their first round of vaccines for Phase 1a populations, Brown said. She is pushing the state to give first doses of the vaccine to all Phase 1a individuals statewide before Feb. 8.
The following groups of people make up who is eligible for the vaccine under Phase 1a, which the state estimates to be between 300,000 to 400,000 people.
- Group 1: Hospitals; urgent care; skilled nursing and memory care facility health care providers and residents; tribal health programs; emergency medical services providers and other first responders.
- Group 2: Other long-term care facilities and congregate care sites, including health care providers and residents; hospice programs; mobile crisis care and related services; individuals working in a correctional setting; personnel of group homes for children or adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities.
- Group 3: Outpatient settings serving specific high-risk groups; in-home care; day treatment services; non-emergency medical transportation.
- Group 4: Health care personnel working in other outpatient and public health settings.
Health officials are referring everyone in Phase 1A to a new eligibility and scheduling tool on the Oregon Health Authority (OHA) website.
Metro county health leaders on Tuesday said anyone in Phase 1A who already has an appointment to be vaccinated should plan on going to their scheduled appointment. People who filled out the survey but have not heard back should go to the eligibility tool to schedule an appointment.
In addition to people in Phase 1a, teachers are also now eligible for the vaccine. Seniors 80 and older will be eligible the week of Feb. 7. In the weeks that follow, Oregon seniors in younger age groups will become eligible.
The governor has repeatedly defended her controversial decision to prioritize teachers and school staff over Oregon’s seniors. She argues vaccinating educators before Oregon's seniors is the only way schools can safely reopen during this school year. She said students must return to schools for their own mental health.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that people 65 and older be vaccinated after health care workers and before other essential workers.