Governor expands COVID-19 vaccine eligibility to all Oregonians over 16, effective April 19

Governor Kate Brown announced today that all Oregonians over the age of 16 will be eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccine beginning April 19.

“We are locked in a race between vaccine distribution and the rapid spread of COVID-19 variants. Today, Oregon will pass the threshold of 2 million vaccine doses administered. And yet, in communities across Oregon, COVID-19 is spreading at concerning rates. We must move as quickly as possible to get more shots in arms. Beginning April 19, all Oregonians over the age of 16 will be eligible to receive a vaccine,” she said.

Read the full press release here.

Governor announces expanded eligibility for COVID-19 vaccine

Governor Kate Brown announced yesterday that COVID-19 vaccine eligibility in Oregon has been expanded to include age-eligible household family members of frontline workers and that the state is expanding its list of qualifying underlying health conditions to align with the CDC’s revised list.

“As we move into the days and weeks ahead, we will continue to deploy a vaccine strategy that is centered on prioritizing our most vulnerable, and ensuring access to the vaccine for everyone. To do this, we need to move in a manner that is both fast and fair,” she said.

The full press release is available here.

Malheur County gets the OK to open eligibility to Group 7 effective immediately

The Governor’s Office today approved Malheur County’s request to open COVID-19 vaccine eligibility to Group 7 of the state’s vaccine timeline. Effective immediately, frontline workers, people living in multi-generational households, and anyone age 16 and older with an underlying health condition can be vaccinated, in addition to the previously eligible groups.

The county’s request was submitted to the Governor’s Office in the form of a letter on March 19 that also addressed county size as it relates to COVID-19 risk assessment and differences between county and school metrics. The other two requests were not addressed in today’s approval.

“This is welcomed news from the state,” Malheur County Health Department Director Sarah Poe said. “This week, for the first time in over a month, Malheur County’s test positivity and case rates showed an increase in the two-week report released by the Governor’s Office. That’s not something we want to see become a trend, and the only way we’re going to keep both of those rates down – and Malheur County open – is through widespread immunity. Vaccines work, they’re safe, and we’re ready to administer it at our weekly clinic tomorrow to everyone who is eligible.”

The MCHD/Incident Command team will host a vaccine clinic tomorrow from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. at the Four Rivers Cultural Center. The clinic is open to the following:

As more Americans become vaccinated against COVID-19, the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention has updated its guidance to reflect new information as it is available. As of March 23, the CDC has stated that it is generally OK for fully vaccinated* people to:

  • Gather indoors with fully vaccinated people without wearing a mask.
  • Gather indoors with unvaccinated people from one other household without masks (unless any of those people or anyone they live with has an increased risk for severe illness from COVID-19).
  • Not quarantine after exposure

*Fully vaccinated means at least two weeks since receiving the second dose of a two-dose vaccine or two weeks after receiving a one-dose vaccine.

Malheur County gets green light from state to move on to next eligibility group

Malheur County has been given the go-ahead from the Governor’s Office to open COVID-19 vaccine eligibility a week ahead of time to Phase 1b Group 6, which includes people age 45-64 with one or more health conditions, people who work in agriculture and food processing, people experiencing unstable housing, and others. The expanded eligibility will help vaccine providers in the county, including the Malheur County Health Department, use the increasing supply of vaccine that is available.

“We could have vaccinated a lot more people than we did last Thursday,” MCHD Director Sarah Poe said. “We administered 121 of the 300 doses we had available. Opening up eligibility will enable us to use a lot more of the vaccine we have coming into the county.”

Approval to expand eligibility came by way of email on Friday evening, just hours after a letter was submitted to the Governor’s Office requesting eligibility for Groups 6 and 7 of the state’s eligibility timeline.

“We have plans to continue weekly vaccine clinics, to support additional healthcare providers and pharmacies, and to start taking vaccine to locations where disproportionately affected populations live and work. This includes very rural communities, onion sheds, and organizations that serve people experiencing houselessness. This takes a great effort logistically, especially to not waste doses when vials are opened. To encourage more vaccine-hesitant and vulnerable people to be vaccinated, we believe we will be more effective if we can open the groups that include people over 16 with an underlying health condition and those in multi-generational housing. We have not been able to use all the vaccine we have available with the eligibility as it is,” the letter stated.

All groups that have become eligible so far remain eligible as new groups are added. It is important that people understand this, Poe said, because data released today by the state shows that Malheur County is behind the state average in vaccinating seniors. As of March 15, the state average for people age 65 and over who have had at least one vaccine dose is 53.69%. In Malheur County, it’s 43.72%. “That’s concerning because Malheur County is one of the easiest places in the state to get a vaccine, and older adults are at highest risk of severe disease,” she said.

All Oregonians age 16 and over will be eligible for the vaccine by May 1.

In additional to MCHD, the following health care providers and pharmacies currently offer COVID-19 vaccines:

  • Valley Family Health Care:
    • Vale, 541-473-2101
    • Ontario, 541-889-2340
    • Nyssa, 541-372-5738
    • TVWC, 541-881-2800
    • TVPC, 541-889-2668
  • Stark Medical, Ontario, 541-889-2244
  • Bi-Mart, Ontario, 541-889-2141
  • Walmart, Ontario, 541-889-6040
  • Malheur Drug, Vale, 541-473-3333
  • Malheur Memorial Health, Nyssa, 541-372-2211
  • Medicap Pharmacy, Nyssa, 541-372-2222

Vaccine update: Who’s eligible, who’s next

Phase 1a: Malheur County Health Department will host a first-come, first-served vaccine POD (point of distribution) tomorrow for people who live or work in Malheur County and are in the Phase 1a group. Availability is limited to approximately 100 people. The POD will open at 8:45 a.m. MCHD will schedule additional PODs as more vaccine becomes available. Check our events calendar for upcoming opportunities.

Phase 1a is often referred to as the “health care” group, but it is not limited to people who work in a health care setting. Phase 1a also includes residents and staff in long-term care facilities; paid or unpaid caregivers, including parents or foster parents, of medically fragile children or adults who live at home; people who have a medical condition or disability who receive services in their home; and those who provide direct service to people with intellectual and/or developmental disabilities. Statewide, Phase 1a includes about 400,000 people.

Phase 1b: People who are childcare providers, early learning or K-12 educators or staff will be eligible for vaccination beginning Monday, Jan. 25, and can now make appointments to be vaccinated. Those in Phase 1a may also continue to be vaccinated as Oregon moves through Phase 1b and beyond. Appointments can be made by calling:

· Your local Valley Family Health Care office during regular business hours

· The Saint Alphonsus-Ontario vaccine line at 541-881-7420. The vaccine line is staffed on Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. (due to technical issues, the line is down today and will be back up on Monday, Jan. 25.)

People age 80 and over will be eligible for vaccination beginning on Feb. 8. People age 65-79 will be vaccinated in the weeks following. Due to limited vaccine supply, Oregon Health Authority has updated its timeline to show that it will take 12-15 weeks to vaccinate groups 1-5 of Phase 1b.  Statewide, Phase 1b Group 1 includes about 105,000 people, and Groups 2-5 include roughly 795,000 people.

Oregon’s COVID-19 Vaccine Advisory Committee will determine eligibility dates for other groups and will share that information as it is available.