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Local health officials say the new shots offer better protection because they target the omicron variant.

COURTESY PHOTO: WASHINGTON COUNTY - A man receives a COVID-19 vaccine dose at a Washington County-supported community vaccination clinic in Tigard in 2021.

The new COVID-19 booster vaccines, which are designed to target the omicron variant, are now rolling out in Washington County.

Local health officials explain where you can get them and why they are recommended for most Oregonians.

"Essentially, the new 'bivalent' boosters have information about the original virus strain that the old vaccines/boosters were based on and the omicron variants that are now circulating, BA.4 and BA.5," said Dr. Christina Baumann, deputy health officer for Washington County. "Immunity from vaccines and infection wanes over time, so boosters help stimulate the body's immune system to fight against infection."

She further explained that, because the new vaccines teach the body to recognize newer strains of the SARS-CoV-2 virus, which causes the COVID-19 infection, they provide better protection for the public.

"This is similar to how there is an updated flu vaccine every year that is tailored to the flu virus strains that are circulating that flu season," Baumann said.

The new variants are expected to continue circulating through fall and winter, so everyone who is able to get the new vaccine is encouraged to do so by the Oregon Health Authority, so as to provide the best protection for vulnerable populations who are still at higher risk for severe illness from COVID-19.

In Washington County, updated booster vaccines can be found at some local pharmacies and doctor's offices or medical clinics. However, there are specific vaccination clinics held on a rolling basis at the following locations:

• Aloha Community Farmers Market: Every Thursday from 3 to 7 p.m., located at 17675 S.W. Farmington Road.

• Beaverton Resource Center: Takes place every Friday at 13565 S.W. Walker Road. Make an appointment online at Project Access Now's website.

• Centro Cultural de Washington County: Takes place every Saturday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at 1110 N. Adair St. in Cornelius. Vaccines for children 6 and older offered.

• Forest Grove Farmers Market: Held every Wednesday night from 3 to 8 p.m., located at 2030 Main St. in Forest Grove.

• M&M Marketplace: Located at 346 S.W. Walnut St. in Hillsboro, this clinic is open every Saturday from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. No appointments or IDs are required, and testing is also available. Call the Vive NW hotline with questions at 844-291-4970.

• Neighborhood Health Center: Locations in Beaverton, Hillsboro and Tanasbourne. Appointments can be made by calling the NHC COVID-19 hotline at 503-848-5861.

• Tektronix: A walk-up clinic operated by the Oregon Health Authority, it's located at 2540 S.W. Alan Blumlein Way inside Building 58, in Beaverton. It's open Wednesday through Saturday from noon to 7 p.m. and on Sundays from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.

• Virginia Garcia Memorial Health Center: Vaccination, testing and treatment are available at 226 S.E. Seventh Ave. in Hillsboro. The clinic is open to all community members, not just patients of the clinic. Tasting is drive-thru and vaccination is walk-up, though appointments are encouraged. Hours are from Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

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