Marking a Milestone

Hard to believe it’s been one year since COVID-19 vaccinations became available to the public, and people in Oregon haven’t been shy about rolling up their sleeves. In that time, 6.5 million shots have been administered here, giving Oregon one of the highest per capita vaccination rates in the country. That’s worth celebrating. It’s also worth noting that it may be time for a booster.

The CDC recommends boosters for anyone over age 16 who received a second dose of Moderna or Pfizer more than six months ago, and likewise for those 18 and older who received the Johnson & Johnson dose more than two months ago.

While you’re scheduling that booster, take a look at how some Oregonians remember getting their first COVID-19 vaccine doses all those months ago.   

Naomi Kaufman Price, retiree and volunteer at the VA Administration in Portland

“I wanted to cry, I was so relieved and happy, but since I got mine at the VA with a bunch of veterans, I didn’t dare shed tears. I’m a polio-generation person. I remember hearing on the radio about people in iron lungs. I remember getting my polio shot in 1955 in the very first round when it came on the market and how that literally changed my life and the lives of my friends and classmates. Those thoughts came back really strong. And I thought, ‘I’m going to get vaccinated now and help put an end to this latest nastiness.’  I have no regrets about doing it at all.”

Farzana Molvi, pediatrician

“I got mine in January of ‘21. That was a unique experience. As a health care worker, I was very excited and so thankful for all the scientists who worked so hard, and we are able to have a vaccine to prevent against this pandemic virus. It’s very hard to describe how grateful I was to get the vaccine.

“I was also a volunteer vaccinator at the Oregon Convention Center (OCC). That was the experience of a lifetime. People were so thankful and had so much gratitude that they were getting the vaccine, and they felt the relief that they would be saved from the disease.”

Bethany Grace Howe, executive director of Echo Mt. Fire Relief

“Seems like a million years ago, doesn’t it? It was a feeling of relief. I work with fire survivors, so I am in very close proximity with a lot of people. There were a lot of times I felt I was jeopardizing my safety. More critically, I understood and still understand that the biggest threat wasn’t me getting it and getting sick, it is me getting it and giving it to the people I work with.”

Kim Matulef, volunteer with Positive Charge PDX

 “I helped seniors get vaccine appointments, and at first it felt impossible. Some of these people had such specific needs. They didn’t know how to use a computer, or they didn’t have a computer, or they didn’t know how to get to anywhere but Safeway a mile from their house. I scheduled over 100 people. They were so appreciative of having someone doing the work for them. It was a very rewarding experience.”

Jennifer N.

“We learned about a very rural county in our state whose Health Department was begging locals to get the vaccine. They were staring down the expiration of some unused supply of vaccines and were opening it up to anyone. Feeling like I definitely did not want to steal needed vaccines from a vulnerable population, I called their health department to ask and let them know I lived in a neighboring county. They told me the clinic hours and added, ‘Bring your friends.’ So, the first week of April we made a five-hour trip to get a vaccine. We were welcomed.”

Bob Donis, retiree

“I was so disgusted with the sign-up process that we could not master. Other people our vintage were having similar problems. I happened to be cruising around Nextdoor and this lady says, ‘I know how to do this. Maybe I can help somebody.’ I didn’t know her. She asked me some basic questions that were not intrusive and the next day she sent an email: ‘Here’s your appointments.’ Getting it was really a relief. It gives you a sense of security.”

Dean Sawyer, mayor of Newport

“In July 2020 the water plant had issues and the crew there had to make major changes. I went out to inspect the work and used a mask and six feet separation. The next day I was notified that a worker had tested positive. So, I had to have a test and had to quarantine for eight days while I waited for test results. It turned out negative, but I was not happy I had to quarantine. In January 2021 I was offered the Moderna shot and jumped at the offer.”