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Seniors to receive next COVID vaccinations in Oregon and Washington

Long-term care facilities will receive the vaccine first, followed by assisted living then retirement communities. More vulnerable populations are first in line.

PORTLAND, Ore. — Senior communities in Oregon and Washington are next in line after health care workers to receive the COVID-19 vaccine.

Phil Fogg Jr. is president of Marquis Companies, which runs health services such as senior living care and Consonus Pharmacy.

Consonus is one of seven non-retail pharmacies in the nation approved by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to provide the COVID vaccine. Starting Monday, it will be among the first in Oregon and Washington to distribute the Pfizer vaccine to senior care facilities.

Long-term care facilities will receive the vaccine first, followed by assisted living then retirement communities.

"It's built around who's the most at-risk," Fogg said. "The most fragile or compromised."

Summerfield Estates Retirement Community in Tigard is on the early list to get the vaccine from another pharmacy, CVS.

RELATED: Some Oregon seniors on CDC list for COVID-19 vaccine priority

"We're waiting to get the word," executive director Kevin Stadelman said. "[Residents are] very excited and waiting. They've been asking every day now."

The timeline is tentative, but Stadelman hopes vaccinations will begin at Summerfield between Jan. 10 and 12. The retirement community already has a plan to space out vaccinations in a common area.

"It's gonna be a party," Stadelman said.

It will likely take several months for the majority of seniors in Oregon and Washington to get both doses of the vaccine. 

In the meantime, most facilities plan to maintain safety measures to prevent the coronavirus from spreading among vulnerable communities.

"We won't just open the doors," Stadelman said.

Precautions could include masks, distancing, limited visits and mandatory quarantine for residents who leave to visit friends and family outside.

"Probably one of the biggest challenges for our resident population is not being able to see their families," Fogg said.

Senior living communities also face the challenge of vaccinating as many people as possible, including those who are currently uncertain or unwilling to get the vaccine.

"They're very nervous ... But you know what? It's something we gotta do," Stadelman said. 

Summerfield has had zero COVID-19 cases so far, which leaders hope to maintain.

"We survived because everybody played the same rules," Stadelman explained. "We all make the right decision together to make sure everyone stays safe."

"This vaccine is providing hope," Fogg added.

As Fogg's company prepares to vaccinate some of the first seniors in Oregon and Washington next week, he emphasized patience and continued safety measures through spring and possibly summer.

"We're gonna move from an environment where we're allocating scarce resources to where we're going to get plenty of vaccine to be able to give to the entire community," Fogg said.

RELATED: 'A step in the right direction': First Portland-area health care workers get COVID-19 vaccine