On April 16, Governor Kate Brown and leadership from the Oregon Health Authority (OHA) participated in a media briefing to talk about the vaccine situation in Oregon.
Equity and access
OHA Director Patrick Allen was frank about vaccine distribution efforts to date.
“The numbers are stark and clear. For too many people, race and income are predictors of whether you can access to a COVID-19 vaccine – or not,” said Director Allen. “As a state, we can and need to do better.”
Director Allen described how OHA has attempted to keep equity at the center of vaccine distribution by prioritizing Federally Qualified Health Centers and migrant and seasonal farmworkers, conducting outreach with the Community Partner Outreach Program and providing grant-funding for community-based organizations doing vaccine outreach. Still, Director Allen admitted it hadn’t been enough and expressed a desire to do more.
“We need to refocus, re-imagine and re-deploy our efforts to get vaccines out into communities that are hardest hit and most at risk,” said Director Allen. “I’m committed to working with leaders in the Latino/Latina community to redress the disparities in our vaccination rates.”
Director Allen provided an update on the vaccine situation in light of the new group of Oregonians becoming eligible for vaccination April 19. Here’s what he had to say:
- More than 1.5 million Oregonians have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine.
- Nearly 1 million Oregonians are fully vaccinated.
- Oregon vaccination sites continue to expand capacity for vaccinations.
- Nearly 3 in 4 seniors have been vaccinated.
Johnson & Johnson update
Director Allen also announced that Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine administration will remain on pause, in accordance with the announcement released April 13 from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
“That continued shortfall means as many as 70,000 fewer vaccine doses per week,” said Director Allen.
Despite the decline in Johnson & Johnson vaccines, Oregon is still expected to receive 154,000 doses of COVID-19 vaccine for the week of April 19 and roughly the same amount is expected for the week of April 26.
Dr. Dean Sidelinger, State Health Officer and State Epidemiologist for OHA, provided an update on the rationale behind the pause.
“The recommendation was made pending reviews by both agencies into six cases of a rare and severe type of blood clot in women ages 18 to 48 after they began showing symptoms beginning six to 13 days after vaccination,” said Dr. Sidelinger. “This action shows that our safety monitoring works – picking up a potential issue early.”
Dr. Sidelinger was also quick to point out that, while these cases are concerning, “the COVID-19 vaccines are safe and effective.”
An update regarding the Johnson & Johnson vaccine is expected some time during the week of April 19.
All Oregonians age 16 and older become eligible for vaccination April 19
On April 19, all Oregonians 16 and older will be eligible for a COVID-19 vaccine. Governor Kate Brown encouraged all those who are becoming eligible to make a plan to get vaccinated.
“Tell your loved ones and neighbors you plan to get vaccinated, and share your reason why,” said Governor Brown. “And if you have already signed up for an appointment, help a friend sign up, too.”
All Oregonians can get connected to vaccine information and events through OHA’s How to Find a COVID-19 Vaccine in Oregon webpage. Alternatively, Oregonians can text “ORCOVID” to 898211 for more vaccine information.
To learn more about the April 16 media briefing, you can: