When can you get your Moderna booster?

With the FDA’s announcement Wednesday that it has authorized boosters for the Moderna and Johnson and Johnson vaccines, the Health Department has been receiving questions about when those vaccine boosters will be available in Malheur County.

There are a few steps which need to take place prior to delivering boosters in Malheur County. This graphic shows some of the steps:

Wednesday’s action was Step 3, and the recommendation now goes to the CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices. The remaining steps could be completed in the next few weeks, so watch this space for updates and information.

MCHD Recovery Outreach events cancelled this week

Malheur County Health Department’s Recovery Outreach events will be cancelled this week. These events include Walk-Through Wednesday, Thursday’s event at Origins and Friday at the Bottle Drop.

Safe use supplies are available during regular business hours, 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m., at the Health Department office, 1108 SW 4th St. in Ontario. For assistance, please call 541-709-8539 between 8:30 a.m. and 5 p.m.

If this is an emergency, please call the Suicide Prevention Line at 1-800-273-8255 or Lifeways Crisis Line at 541-889-9167 or 1-800-995-9169.

Walk Thru Wednesday cancelled this week

Malheur County Health Department’s Walk Thru Wednesday will be cancelled this week.

Safe use supplies are available during regular business hours, 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m., at the Health Department office, 1108 SW 4th St. in Ontario. For assistance, please call 541-709-8539 between 8:30 a.m. and 5 p.m.

If this is an emergency, please call the Suicide Prevention Line at 1-800-273-8255 or Lifeways Crisis Line at 541-889-9167 or 1-800-995-9169.

Let’s trick-or-treat safely!

The time for ghosts, goblins and sticky sweets is approaching faster than you can say “Boo!” OK, maybe not that fast, but it is time to start preparing for a safe Halloween.

This year, if you plan to trick-or-treat or hand out candy, please keep these tips in mind for a fun and healthy outing: 

  • Get everyone 12 and older vaccinated so they can start to build their immunity. 
  • Stay outdoors if you gather with people from another household.  
  • Keep six feet of distance from the zombie dragons and pirates you pass. Even with the best of intentions, it’s hard to predict whether a child will be able to maintain distance while trick-or-treating.  
  • Wear a proper face covering. A plastic costume mask is not a COVID-safe face covering. 
  • Remember it’s not safe to wear a costume mask over a face covering, but decorating a child’s face covering might bring an added touch of fun to their costume!  
  • Also remember it’s not safe for children younger than 2 to wear a mask.  
  • Pay attention when going door-to-door. If one house looks a bit crowded with fellow trick-or-treaters, try another house that isn’t as busy – you can always go back to that house later.
  • When trunk-or-treating:
    • consider arriving very early so you can be in front of the crowd when walking from trunk to trunk.
    • Leave space between your group and the group in front of you.
    • Allow the group in front of you to leave a trunk before you approach it. 
35,383 Trick Or Treat Illustrations & Clip Art - iStock

A few extra considerations:  

  • Choose practical shoes. Even little ones who ask to be carried on most days may suddenly find that they can’t walk a marathon on Halloween.  
  • Carry a flashlight or glowstick or put reflective tape on costumes to help other people and drivers spot little goblins and superheroes.  
  • Discard candy if the wrapper is torn.  
  • Bring along hand sanitizer to use when needed.  

A special note about the one in 13 children living with food allergies: The Teal Pumpkin Project helps make trick-or-treating safer and more inclusive by asking people to offer non-food trinkets and treats that are safe for everyone. You can participate by placing a teal pumpkin on your porch or front steps. Food Allergy Research and Education (FARE) has more information about living with food allergies here

Lastly, a reminder to drivers. Please slow down and be alert! Kids are excited and may run into the street. It’s a good day to turn on your headlights early so trick-or-treaters can see you and you can spot them from farther away.  

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has more tips for safe trick-or-treating here.  

Weekend peace of mind

If you have plans for the weekend, but want to make sure you won’t infect your friends with COVID-19, don’t forget the free testing and vaccine event happening today at the Malheur County Fairgrounds, 795 NW 9th St., in Ontario.

In partnership with the Oregon Health Authority, Malheur County’s ICS team, will be at the Fairgrounds until 4 p.m. today, and every Thursday, offering PCS tests with results emailed to the patient, and all three COVID-19 vaccines for those who wish to have one. Pfizer doses will be available to anyone age 12 and up (with parental consent required for those age 12-15). Pfizer third doses and booster doses will also be available to those who qualify. Details are here. Moderna doses will be available for people age 18 and up, and third doses are available for those who qualify. Booster doses are not yet approved for Moderna. J&J is available as a one-dose vaccine only at this time for ages 18+. $25 gift cards for every dose given. We hope to have Pfizer approved for ages 5+ late this month or early November, so stay tuned to malheurhealth.org for updates.

Leon is a Registered Nurse in the local Emergency Department. He sees patients come in with severe COVID-19 symptoms almost daily. He recently received his booster dose of the Pfizer vaccine, and said he made the decision to protect himself, his patients and his family, including a son who is too young to be vaccinated.

Please share these flyers with others, and help protect your loved ones from this virus.

Free COVID-19 Testing & Vaccine Every Tues & Thurs in October

For the next three weeks of October, the Malheur County ICS team, in partnership with the Oregon Health Authority, will host free COVID-19 testing and vaccine events at the Fairgrounds on Tuesdays (9a-4p) and Thursdays (11a-4p). Please share the fliers with details in English and in Spanish.

Anyone can be tested. On Tuesdays, there will be limited availability of rapid tests and Thursdays will have PCR testing with an estimated 2-3 day turnaround. We expect reduced rapid test supply over time that will be replaced with an increase in PCR testing. Please be patient! PCR results will be mailed to recipients, including negative test letters many are requesting. We encourage anyone with symptoms seeking weekly surveillance testing to go on Thursdays between 11 a.m. and 4 p.m. Rapid tests are most accurate for people with symptoms, so we would like to prioritize our limited supply where it is most useful to people who are sick on Tuesdays from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

For vaccine, Pfizer is available for age 12+, including boosters and 3rd doses (details here). Moderna is available for age 18+, including 3rd doses (no booster yet). J&J is available as a one dose vaccine only at this time for ages 18+. $25 gift cards for every dose given. We hope to have Pfizer approved for ages 5+ late this month or early November, so stay tuned to malheurhealth.org for updates.

Click on the fliers below to open PDF version that is easy to share and print. Thank you!

COVID-19 Booster Doses and Third Doses

A visual representation of the written information in the "Who needs a third dose?" and "Who needs a booster dose?" sections of this article.

Vaccination is the single most critical and powerful public health intervention in history. More lives have been saved and more harm reduced through vaccination than anything else we have ever done. Please help protect our community by sharing this information. If you know someone ages 12 and up who has not been vaccinated, please encourage them to get vaccinated now. If you know someone who received the Moderna or Pfizer vaccine at least 6 months ago, please encourage them to get a booster dose. Our entire county is considered a high risk setting for anyone who is not isolated at home because of high transmission rates.

Visit our Free COVID-19 Testing and Vaccine Events at the Malheur County Fairgrounds on Tuesdays (9a-4p) and Thursdays (11a-4p) through the month of October. Please share the updated flyer here.

More ways to find a vaccine

Who needs a third dose?

A third dose is for people who are immunocompromised and may not have built up adequate protective immunity with their first series of mRNA (Pfizer or Moderna) vaccines. Immunocompromised people can receive their third dose at least 28 days after receiving their second dose of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine. Currently, there is no additional dose authorized for the Johnson & Johnson vaccine.

Who needs a booster dose?

A booster dose is strongly recommended for people whose immunity may be fading six months after completing their second Pfizer vaccination and are in one of these groups: People 65 years and older; people ages 50-64 with underlying medical conditions; and people ages 18-64, who either have underlying conditions or who are at risk of increased exposure or transmission because of where they work or live (including Malheur County).

COVID-19 Cases in Malheur County: Situation Update

To date, Malheur County has recorded 5,379 COVID-19 positive cases and 73 deaths. 198 cases were reported for last week, a continuation of the same rate over the previous two weeks. While case counts are decreasing in some parts of the state, it’s too soon to know if we have reached our peak in this current wave of outbreaks yet. The table above shows the number of weekly cases over the past two months. Comparatively, we never had a week with over 200 cases prior to six weeks ago. Now we’ve had four weeks out of the last six with over 200 cases. About 5% of cases in Oregon require hospitalization. Malheur has averaged 5-7% of cases hospitalized in the previous month and with so many newly reported cases, we will likely see more hospitalizations and death in the next few weeks.

Find updates on weekly case counts, test positivity, and trends on our MALHEUR COUNTY COVID-19 CASES AND DATA page.

If you have symptoms or have been around someone who tested positive or has COVID-19 like symptoms, please get tested. Get a test at one of our free drive-through testing and vaccine events at the Fairgrounds on Tuesdays and Thursdays through October or call your healthcare provider or pharmacy. Updated flyers on the fairgrounds events here. More on COVID-19 Testing in Oregon here.

Please help us protect our healthcare system, save lives, and prevent the many hardships on individuals, schools, and businesses by staying home if you are sick, getting tested if exposed, wearing a mask in public, and avoiding gatherings. The most effective way to protect yourself and those around you is to be vaccinated.

Second weekday testing and vaccination clinic added

Angela chose to get a second dose of COVID-19 vaccine because “It is required for my job. I give service to migrant families – much of it face-to-face – this makes me feel like I can give better service, and I’m not scared of giving someone the Covid.”

Vaccinations and testing are available Tuesdays at the Malheur County Fairgrounds, 795 NW 9th St., Ontario, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 7, COVID-19 tests will be available from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Beginning Oct. 14, vaccinations and testing will be available on Thursdays through October from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Events will all be held at the fairgrounds.

All three vaccines will be available, with third doses of Pfizer and Moderna available for those who qualify, and booster doses of Pfizer for those who qualify. For more information on third doses and booster doses, the Oregon Health Authority has information here.

Testing and vaccination Tuesdays and Thursdays at Malheur County Fairgrounds

Free COVID-19 testing and vaccination is available every Tuesday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Thursday from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. through October, at the Malheur County Fairgrounds, 795 NW 9th St. in Ontario.

Members of the Malheur County Incident Command System, the Oregon Health Authority, as well as volunteers from local nonprofits, will be on hand to provide the Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson vaccines, including third doses and booster doses, to those who qualify.