Federal government changed direction without notice
PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Gov. Kate Brown announced late Tuesday afternoon Oregon will expand its COVID-19 vaccination plan to include everyone who is 65 and older beginning January 23.
That’s the date more vaccine shipments are expected to begin arriving from the federal government, the governor’s office said. And on that date, seniors can get vaccinated along with child care providers, plus early learning and K-12 educators and staff.
Brown called this a welcome but “unexpected change in course from the federal government.”
She said they will detail plans on Friday for “the rapid deployment of vaccines to health care providers and mass vaccination sites across Oregon.”
The National Guard is already helping administer vaccinations in some spots around the state.
But she asked for patience, especially since this information from the federal government came without notice.
“Please, do not call your doctor’s office or health care provider with questions about when you can be vaccinated,” Brown said in a statement. “Oregon health care providers are working as fast as humanly possible to shift their vaccine distribution plans to meet this sudden change in national guidance.”
Tuesday night, the Oregon Vaccine Advisory Committee met for a second time. They will advise OHA who will get the vaccine after Phase 1A.
“We heard the announcement today so we are going to be working with communities, local public health authorities, hospitals across Oregon and determining how to get those over 65 vaccinated,” said OHA’s Public Health Division Director Rachael Banks.
The governor also said she remains determined to make sure those disproportionately affected by the coronavirus have access to the vaccine — “Oregon’s Black, Indigenous, tribal, Latino, Latina, and Latinx, Pacific Islander, and communities of color.”
And reaching educators and seniors in these communities is critical, she said.
Her announcement came shortly after the daily Oregon COVID report was released that showed another 54 people died from COVID-19. Officials said there are 2 main reasons for the high total: the rising case count during the November-December surge and the lag time in processing death certificates and confirming with the CDC.
Also Monday, Brown announced Baker, Clatsop, Coos and Morrow counties are moving from High Risk to Extreme Risk, bringing to 26 counties statewide that are in the Extreme Risk level. Two are at High Risk, 2 at Moderate Risk, and 6 at Lower Risk.
Phase 1A rollout so far
Metro-area counties and major health systems announced a new effort Tuesday to vaccinate all area health care providers and employees eligible for the state’s Phase 1A vaccine, including solo practitioners and those unaffiliated with a hospital.
The new process entails county public health departments matching health care providers and employers with hospital systems that have agreed to provide these vaccinations. Employers are to have one person fill out a short survey with the name of their organization, the health care sector they work in, the number of employees who need vaccination, and a point of contact.
Oregon employers can require vaccination
In another development, Oregon law says that workplaces can require employees to get the COVID vaccine.
The Bureau of Labor and Industries released new information this week about the news, saying that workplaces may also make exceptions.
Employers are not required to mandate the vaccine, however. And until the vaccine is widely available to the public, many of these guidances do not yet apply.
BOLI has a FAQ on their website with more information.
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