OHA launches website, hotline, for COVID-19-positive people

Wednesday, the Oregon Health Authority launched a new website (oregon.gov/positivecovidtest) that includes what to do if you test positive for COVID-19, if you have been exposed, and how to seek resources if you’re isolating at home and need support.

The new COVID-19 Case Support Hotline at 866-917-8881 will be open from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Friday, and 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday (times are Mountain Time).

The state is also moving to an “opt-in” model for investigating some COVID-19 cases. People can report their positive at-home test result through the online survey linked at oregon.gov/positivecovidtest, or get help completing the survey through the hotline.

While we don’t require individuals to report their at-home test results, we highly recommend people to do so, and to let close contacts know about potential exposure. Hospitals, health care providers, labs and local public health authorities are required to report test results.

In Malheur County, this means people with a positive test result may not hear from a case investigator. Because of the surge in cases, and the new guidance from OHA, Malheur County is prioritizing cases of people who are at high risk, or live or work in high-risk settings, as described below.

Today’s launch follows an OHA decision to revise guidelines for investigating COVID-19 cases to focus less on interviewing individual cases and conducting contact tracing, and more on outbreaks in high-risk settings, such as those in congregate care, health care, K-12 education and food chain industries.

To learn more, visit our blog: http://covidblog.oregon.gov/test-positive-new-website…/

COVID-19 Support Hotline. 866-917-8881. Tested positive for COVID-19? Isolate immediately. If you have questions or need support, call the hotline. A Support Team member can help you answer questions about isolation or quarantine, how to tell close contacts about potential COVID-19 exposure, information about resources to help during isolation and help filling out the online case survey. Spanish-speaking staff and interpreters are available if you don't speak English.

Children as young as 12 authorized to receive Pfizer booster

On Jan. 6, the Western States Scientific Review Workgroup joined the CDC in recommending new guidelines for the Pfizer vaccine.

The new guidance, which takes effect in Oregon immediately, says:

  • Children ages 12-15 can now get a Pfizer booster at least five months after their second dose.
  • The wait time for a booster dose has been shortened to at least five months after receiving their initial series of the Pfizer vaccine.
  • Immunocompromised children ages 5-11 can now receive a third primary series dose of the Pfizer vaccine.

It’s more important than ever to get boosted. It is vital in protecting you against severe cases of COVID-19, especially with the Omicron variant spreading so quickly. With just the primary series of vaccines, you’re only 35% protected from Omicron. With a booster, that protection level jumps up to 75%. Boosters take only two to three days to strengthen your immune response.

Where to get a COVID-19 booster

  • if you have a doctor, ask them first
  • visit the Malheur County Health Department any Wednesday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. (no appointment needed)
  • Contact a local pharmacy to schedule an appointment
  • Contact a local medical clinic to schedule an appointment
  • Text ORCOVID to 898211 (English and Spanish) or email ORCOVID@211info.org
  • Call 211 or 1-866-698-6155, toll-free, 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. (Mountain Time) daily, including holidays
  • Or you can use the vaccine locator tool on OHA’s website, found here.

Case counts rising again

COVID-19 cases are on the rise again in Malheur County, and the Health Department urges everyone to be mindful of others as we go about our business, by wearing masks in indoor public spaces, frequent handwashing, get tested at the first sign of symptoms and get vaccinated.

To be tested for COVID-19, contact your primary care physician, your local clinic or pharmacy, or you may be able to find an at-home test in a pharmacy – contact your local pharmacy to ask about availability. Testing sites may be found at https://govstatus.egov.com/or-oha-covid-19-testing and vaccine sites may be found at https://getvaccinated.oregon.gov. If you have a child who attends a Malheur County school and has symptoms or was exposed to the positive case at school, contact their school, which may have free testing available.

COVID-19 vaccinations are available at local physician’s offices and clinics, pharmacies, the Health Department, and at various vaccine events throughout the county. To stay up-to-date on vaccine events, keep an eye on the MCHD calendar of events.

Positions to close Jan. 7

The Malheur County Health Department currently has several positions open. Two of those will close to applicants Jan. 7, 2022.

Tobacco Prevention and Education Program/Health Equity – see job description here. This full-time, permanent position with benefits requires a person who is self-motivated, goal-oriented and detail focused. *Closes Jan. 7.

Public Health Emergency Preparedness/Community Engagement – see job description here. This full-time, permanent position with benefits requires a person who is self-motivated, goal-oriented and detail focused. *Closes Jan. 7.

Peer Recovery Mentor (three positions open) – see job description here. If you know anyone who is passionate about helping people, who has at least two years in recovery, please refer them to the county website to apply.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is public-health.jpg

Wednesday vaccination clinics continue into new year, extended hours ends this week

Parents who want to get kids vaccinated before they return to school in the new year are encouraged to bring the child to the Malheur County Health Department 1108 SW 4th St., clinic in Ontario, Wednesday, Dec. 29, from 1 p.m. to 6 p.m. This will be the last of our extended hours clinics.

Beginning next week, every Wednesday will see walk-in vaccination clinics from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the Health Department. All childhood vaccines, and most adult vaccines will be available, including all doses of the safe and effective COVID-19 vaccines.

Please call 541-889-7279 if you have questions.

See the source image

Celebrating faith safely this holiday season

While we still need to take safety precautions to protect against COVID-19, the good news is that thanks to the protection offered by vaccinations, boosters and face masks, we are better able this year to safely participate in faith traditions. Here are some ways you can protect yourself and those around you.

The Oregon Health Authority offers these tips for safely worshipping.

People who are at high risk should consider these low-risk activities:

  • Attend online services.
  • Attend outdoor services, either with a mask or where it is possible to maintain safe distance from others.
See the source image

Vaccine clinic hours

The clinic at the Malheur County Health Department will have extended hours for one more Wednesday in 2021. Dec. 29, the clinic, at 1108 SW 4th St. in Ontario will be open from 1 p.m. to 6 p.m. for walk-in vaccinations.

Beginning Jan. 5, the clinic will be open every Wednesday in 2022 from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. for walk-in vaccinations.

For more information, contact the Malheur County Health Department at 541-889-7279.

Three vaccination events coming soon

There are three COVID-19 vaccination events coming in the next few days in Malheur County – two in Nyssa and one in Vale.

Friday, Dec. 17, at Vale City Hall, 150 A St. E, Eastern Oregon Center for Independent Living will host a vaccine clinic from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. This event will be for people 18 and older, and will feature all doses of Moderna and Johnson and Johnson vaccines, as well as high and regular dose influenza vaccines and the flu mist. Flyers for the event are in English and Spanish.

Saturday, Dec. 18, COVID-19 vaccines will be given by Eastern Oregon Center for Independent Living for people ages 5 and older at the Tex-Mex Express, 400 Thunderegg Blvd. in Nyssa from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. All three brands of vaccine will be available. Flyers for the event in English and Spanish.

Tuesday, Dec. 21, all three COVID-19 vaccines, as well as flu vaccines, will be available at the Nyssa Middle School, cafeteria, 101 S. 11th St., from 3-5 p.m. This event is hosted by the Malheur County Health Department, and is for anyone 5 and older. Look here for flyers in English and Spanish.

Rides to vaccine events can be accessed by calling 541-889-3119.

Prepare now for winter driving

We’ve already seen some snow in Malheur County, and now is the time to make sure your vehicle, and you, are ready to hit the road safely this winter.

Some tips:

Always check the weather for your route and use Tripcheck.com for road conditions. Keep a winter emergency kit in your vehicle. Suggested items include:

✔️ Phone charger, warm clothes, blankets

✔️ First aid kit, bottled water and non-perishable snacks

✔️ Jumper cables, flashlight with batteries, road flares

✔️ Ice scraper, shovel, tire chains if needed

✔️ Winterize your vehicle, keep a full tank of gas and a spare tire

✔️ Visit ready.gov/car for more tips

May be an image of car and text that says 'Do you have a vehicle emergency kit? Warm Clothes Snacks and Water Phone Charger Ice Scraper Flashlight with Batteries Blankets First Aid Kit Jumper Cables OREGION DEA OEM www.Ready.gov/car'

May be an image of car and text that says 'Ropa cálida ¿Tiene un equipo de emergencia para vehículos? Comida y agua Cargador de teléfono Raspador de hielo Linterna y pilas Mantas Kit de primeros auxilios Cables de arranque MILITARY BEA OEM ★ EMERGENCY www.Ready.gov/es/auto'

Pfizer boosters available for ages 16 to 17

Following the FDA, CDC and Western States Scientific Safety Review recommendation to expand Pfizer COVID-19 booster vaccine eligibility to people 16-17 years who have completed their primary vaccination series, Malheur County Health Department will begin offering the boosters at the drive-through vaccine clinic Saturday, Dec. 11, 2021 at the Ontario Airport firehouse from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Individuals ages 16 and older who received the Pfizer vaccine should receive a booster dose after at least six months.

A booster is a vaccine dose given to a person whose immune response from the primary vaccine series has waned over time. Booster doses help people maintain strong immunity to disease longer. The first vaccine series builds up the immune system to make the antibodies needed to fight the disease. Over time, the immune response weakens. A booster dose stimulates the initial response and tends to result in higher antibody levels that help people maintain their immunity longer.

“The scientists, medical experts and health officials who reviewed studies on the effectiveness of COVID-19 vaccines have determined that the benefits provided by a booster merit their use for this group,” said Dr. Dean Sidelinger, state health officer and state epidemiologist.  “We already know that protection can wane over time, and the boosters will continue to provide younger Oregonians continued protection, just as boosters are doing for Oregonians 18 years and older.”

There are an estimated 100,000 Oregonians ages 16 and 17. Of this group, approximately 25,000 are now eligible for boosters following today’s approvals. Another 25,000 persons in this age group will be eligible by the end of this month, and up to 7,000 persons who are 16 and 17 years of age will become eligible for boosters through first part of 2022.

“This is another step in expanding the numbers of persons who are protected, as we continue to deal with the Delta variant in our communities and plan for the arrival of the Omicron variant, which is already found in more than a third of states,” said Sidelinger.

All COVID-19 vaccines are safe, effective and free. They are available throughout the state at pharmacies, health providers, Tribal clinics and community vaccination clinics.

More information can be found here.