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Hospitals Will Embrace Challenge to Vaccinate Seniors, Educators When More Doses Arrive

Hospitals will start preparations for a big increase in the number of Oregonians who can soon receive the COVID-19 vaccine after the Centers for Disease Control unexpectedly expanded the eligibility guidelines and Governor Brown followed suit.

Starting January 23, educators and everyone 65 and older will be included. The federal government will release its full stock of vaccine doses to the states. That supply, however, will likely not  be enough to handle the larger number of eligible recipients.

Hospital leaders applauded the move while signaling that there is much logistical work ahead to vaccinate the new larger cohort. “Oregon’s hospitals have been enthusiastic partners in bringing the COVID-19 vaccine to our residents, and we are happy that more vaccine is being sent to Oregon,” said Becky Hultberg, OAHHS President & CEO. “Just as our hospital teams have done whatever it takes to care for Oregonians suffering from this virus, we will bring that same drive and determination to the expanded vaccine effort.”

Details on the larger scale distribution effort are yet to be worked out. Portland area hospitals have recently begun partnerships with metro area public health departments to identify and vaccinate providers not affiliated with large health systems. That work will soon be expanded to include teachers and senior citizens.

Governor Brown will provide more details on the distribution plans on January 15. “If you are an Oregonian who is newly eligible for vaccination, I am asking for your patience,” she said.

Until the new program begins on January 23 Oregon will continue to follow the initial OHA Phase 1a guidelines.