Gov. Kate Brown visited Salem Health’s COVID-19 vaccination clinic at the Oregon State Fairgrounds Wednesday.
Brown watched as National Guard member Juan Carlos Rojas, of Salem, administered the Pfizer vaccine to Jason Mayberry, who lives in Portland and works in Salem.
In a short statement, Brown said she hopes similar clinics can be replicated in Oregon’s other large cities.
“Salem Health stood this up in very short order. They’re vaccinating anywhere from hundreds to 3,000 people a day. It’s truly an extraordinary effort,” Brown said.
Brown activated 40 guardsmen to help with the clinic beginning Tuesday.
Salem Health President Cheryl Wolfe said the hospital has given 11,000 vaccines since the clinic opened a week ago.
“Our plan is to be open until Oregon is vaccinated,” Wolfe said.
On Tuesday, Brown announced the state will soon open up vaccines to everyone age 65 and older, following new federal guidance.
Vaccines so far have been limited to health care workers and long-term care residents, with teachers and school staff next in line.
The federal guidance also calls for giving the vaccine to people age 18 to 65 with health conditions that could make them more susceptible to COVID-19. But Oregon won’t include that population yet, Brown said Wednesday.
Right now, the state is receiving roughly 50,000 vaccines per week, while there are about 800,000 Oregonians who are 65 or older or school staff, she said.
“We’re going to work hard and get those folks vaccinated as quickly and efficiently as possible and then we will be including Oregonians between the ages of 65 and 18 in the pool,” Brown said.
Charles Boyle, Brown’s spokesman, later said there are about 1.6 million Oregonians who could potentially be counted as having an underlying health condition.
“At this point, there are not nearly enough vaccines available for that large a number of people, but we will be working with stakeholders to develop outreach and distribution plans so that we will be ready to begin vaccinating Oregonians with underlying health conditions as more vaccines become available,” Boyle said.
Brown finished her visit by chatting with nurses and National Guard members giving vaccines to patients at the clinic.
–Tracy Loew/The Salem Statesman Journal