Clackamas County expanding options to receive vaccine
Clackamas County is rolling out additional opportunities and sites to get the COVID-19 vaccine to address concerns regarding access at vaccination sites in Portland.
This week, March 8, Clackamas County received an additional 3,200 doses of vaccine for immediate distribution to allow residents wanting the vaccine to receive it closer to home rather than driving to the Oregon Convention Center or Portland International Airport sites.
Starting the week of March 28, the county announced it expects to receive between 7,000-10,500 doses per week and expand vaccination efforts by establishing new sites.
Three drive-thru clinics will be popping up at the Clackamas County fairgrounds in Canby, Molalla High School and Clackamas Town Center. The sites at the fairgrounds and high school will be once per week, and the town center will be twice weekly.
Additionally, the county will be offering the vaccine at small community clinics such as at Oregon City's WIC Office and Sandy High School's school-based health center. Pharmacies in the county are also benefiting from an increased number of doses.
Philip Mason-Joyner, Clackamas County's public health director, said that the county is shifting from a mentality of having scarce resources and high demand to one in which they implement mass vaccinations.
"We've really ramped up to get ready for these extra doses through putting partnerships in place, so we'll have a variety of different options for folks closer to home," Mason-Joyner said. "Local pharmacies being online with schedules is great. We're working with our local fire agencies to put in larger community clinics, and also standing up some smaller ones because a lot of folks prefer a more intimate environment where you feel like you're just at the doctor."
According to Mason-Joyner, while the county does expect these additional weekly doses to make a positive impact in the wait times and ability to secure an appointment, eligibility will continue to increase as weeks press on, meaning that wait times won't be completely eliminated.
"There will still be a bit of a wait, but certainly we're going to have a lot more options available to folks," he said. "I'm proud of our Clackamas County team in that we have stood up our call center to help people with technology, language or access concerns."
On Wednesday, March 10, the county partnered with Tualatin Valley Fire & Rescue to set up a clinic at Clackamas Community College's Wilsonville campus where 1,000 got their first dose of the Moderna vaccine including some seniors, Phase 1A and daycare workers.
The county is also in the process of distributing approximately 3,600 doses of the Johnson & Johnson single-dose vaccine to seniors who are homebound or live in one of the 100-plus adult foster homes in Clackamas County that have yet to receive any doses. That effort is also benefiting from partnerships with fire agencies who are going out in the community along with home-visiting nurses to ensure everyone who wants the vaccine and is eligible gets it, no matter their mobility. Other vaccination efforts in coming weeks will focus on populations such as the county's homeless and farmworker populations.
"We want to go where people are at, where there's convenient access," Mason-Joyner said. "Clackamas County has lots of communities, and they're both urban and rural. Having such a regular, large clinic at the town center is fantastic because you've got public transportation and a more densely populated area with more ways people can get to it easily."
Mason-Joyner said the county expects to announce more pop-up vaccination events taking place throughout the county over the next two months in order to fill in the gaps as they're identified.
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