As COVID-19 vaccinations are being dispersed throughout the nation, smaller Oregon communities like Cottage Grove have begun to see some of those doses trickle in for the first phase of recipients.
Chief Administrative Officer of the PeaceHealth Cottage Grove Community Medical Center and Sacred Heart Medical Center University District Alicia Beymer said distribution of the vaccine in the PeaceHealth Oregon network was moving along at a promising rate.
“We are very pleased to announce in Oregon, we’ve vaccinated for our PeaceHealth system … 3,443 caregivers as of Jan. 3,” she said.
Since the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine was approved Dec. 11, Oregon has administered 55,239 doses, according to Oregon Health Authority (OHA) data as of Jan. 5.
The state health authority reported that 2,818 doses were given Jan. 4 and another 2,019 shots were recorded the previous day.
As of Tuesday, Lane County had seen 4,760 people vaccinated.
With 226,700 doses confirmed as distributed to Oregon, about 75 percent of the doses have yet to be administered.
Between 300,000 and 400,000 Oregonians are estimated to be eligible for the first phase of vaccinations.
Gov. Kate Brown said on Monday that Oregon is not vaccinating people fast enough and asked OHA to ramp up its efforts, calling on the health authority reach a benchmark of 12,000 vaccines administered per day.
Meanwhile, Beymer said PeaceHealth is satisfied with its numbers.
“We’re very proud of the work that our teams have done on setting up the clinics, as well as the participation of our caregivers and providers in the vaccination programs,” she said.
PeaceHealth has vaccinated around 50 percent of its ministry, Beymer said, a network which consists of Sacred Heart Medical Center at Riverbend, the University District, Florence’s Peace Harbor Medical Center and Cottage Grove’s medical center.
PeaceHealth held its first vaccination clinic on Dec. 21 at its Riverbend and University District centers, opening the availability up to all caregivers within the network.
Due to the ultra-cold storage required for the Pfizer vaccine, availability has been limited to these centers, Beymer explained.
“There are a lot of logistics that go into supporting a vaccination program, especially with Pfizer with the ultra-cold storage and then the Moderna vaccine,” said Beymer. “Not only are you providing the first dose, but you’re also having to schedule for the second dose.
“And so making sure that everybody is available and able to go in for their second dose … there are different hurdles and logistics that you have to go through to be able to support a meaningful pro-gram and making sure that we’re able to dispense it and administer it within the CDC recommendations and guidelines.”
OHA has stated that will take some time before every Oregonian who wants to get the vaccine can get their two shots. The health authority is following a phased approach to ensure the provision of the first vaccines to critical health care workers who work with COVID-19 patients.
In line with CDC guidance for Phase 1a, frontline health care workers and long-term care residents are prioritized as the first group to receive the vaccine.
This includes doctors, nurses, janitorial staff and others who have the potential for direct or indirect contact with COVID-19 patients or infectious materials.
According to South Lane County Fire and Rescue Division Chief Joe Raade, the district is due to receive its first round of vaccines Friday.
OHA’s Vaccine Advisory Committee will be informing the next phases of vaccine distribution beyond Phase 1a to include critical workers, people with underlying health conditions and those older than 65.
The general population isn’t expected to be eligible for vaccination until sometime in spring 2021 as the three-phased plan rolls out.
“This is an effort to end the pandemic,” said Beymer. “And so we appreciate the support and teamwork that everybody’s put into it.”
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