National Guard to speed vaccinations, school staff moved to Phase 1B

At a press conference on Friday, Jan. 8, Governor Kate Brown announced that to reach the goal of administering 12,000 vaccines a day, she has deployed the National Guard to provide vaccination support. They will start by providing logistical and nursing support for a Salem Health mass vaccination event that begins this weekend at the state fairgrounds. 

“We entered into this new year with hope following the first COVID-19 vaccinations in Oregon, the passage of a second federal relief bill, and the Legislature’s action to deliver a $400 million package to bring relief to many Oregonians,” Governor Brown said. “And even as this virus continues to threaten us with new contagious strains and feelings of fatigue that challenge a year into the pandemic, Oregonians keep showing our strength and resilience.” 

Oregon Health Authority Director Patrick Allen laid out the plan to ramp up COVID-19 vaccination to reach the goal of 12,000 vaccinations per day by the end of next week. The plan includes speeding up the Phase 1A process, getting more vaccine to providers who have the capacity to administer it, and enlisting retail pharmacies in all counties to process vaccines.

Malheur County Health Department Director Sarah Poe said the department is committed to distributing as much vaccine as possible, as quickly as possible. “We are prepared, organized, and well supported by other county departments. We are working closely with other providers who have received vaccine allocations and will move through the highest priority groups together as quickly as possible. We appreciate Governor Brown’s call for urgency. This vaccine is safe and will save lives in our community.”

For more information on OHA’s strategy for increasing COVID-19 vaccination, watch this video of Director Allen.  

School staff moved to Phase 1B

At the start of the new year, Oregon’s COVID-19 Health Metrics for Returning to In-Person Instruction became advisory. This means that local school districts and communities will decide at the local level whether to return to in-person instruction, in consultation from their local public health authority. This week, teachers were added into Phase 1B of vaccination to offer them protection as schools begin to reopen. 

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.

Oregon’s COVID-19 Vaccine Advisory Committee (VAC) is considering how to prioritize critical workers, such as transportation workers and grocery store workers, older adults, people with underlying conditions and other factors. The next VAC meeting will stream live on Thursday, Jan. 14 from 10 a.m. to noon. You can watch the Jan. 7 meeting here

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