COVID-19 Vaccine Advisory Committee meets to discuss vaccine priorities

PORTLAND, Ore. — Oregon’s COVID-19 Vaccine Advisory Committee (VAC) met for the first time yesterday to discuss how critical workers and population will be prioritized in the state’s vaccine rollout.

The VAC will co-create a vaccine sequencing plan focused on health equity to ensure the state’s vaccine distribution plan meets the needs of populations who are most at-risk and hardest hit by the pandemic. These populations include communities of color, tribal communities and people with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

Educators and other staff at PK-12 schools and early learning centers will follow the Phase 1A group, which includes: health care workers, residents and staff at long-term care facilities and first responders, in the state’s most immediate prioritization order. The vaccine advisory committee is considering how to prioritize critical workers, such as transportation workers and grocery store workers, older adults, people with underlying conditions and other factors.

“Urgency,” said Cherity Bloom-Miller, VAC member with the Confederated Tribes of Siletz Indians Community Health Clinic. “We need to make some fast decisions to get vaccines out quickly.”

Oregon Health Authority Director Patrick Allen, who joined the group’s first meeting, shared the same sentiment. “The decisions you’re going to make will be incredibly hard and we’re asking you to make them incredibly quickly,” said Allen.

Today’s meeting was a vital first step in determining upcoming sequencing. The inaugural meeting of the diverse, 27-member group representing health organizations, nonprofits and businesses across rural and urban Oregon – including older adults, people with disabilities, cultural and ethnic communities, migrant and seasonal farm workers – came a day after the deadliest day of COVID-19 in the United States to date. The pandemic has now claimed more than 360,000 lives.

Recommendations for a vaccine sequencing plan are expected to develop over the next several weeks. For a YouTube link of yesterday’s meeting, click here. The next VAC meeting will be streaming live on Thursday, Jan. 14 from 10 a.m. to noon.

For more on the COVID-19 Vaccine Advisory Committee (VAC), including a list of Advisory Committee Membership, click here.

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