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Michael Baker: 'Get on as many lists as you can' to receive a COVID vaccination

After last week's nationwide deep freeze delayed doses destined for Jefferson County, the vaccine supply finally seems to be evening out.

"There was this big kind of ice dam." Jefferson County Public Health Director Michael Baker says the supply chain has been spotty since the beginning. "There was a trickling here and there. Some weeks we got none, some weeks we got a hundred. One time we got a thousand. It was always very unpredictable."

Now, Baker can see a few weeks into the future and can plan how to dispense the doses to Jefferson County.

"It looks like we're getting a steady supply at a rate that the community can actually deliver."

This week, the county received last week's doses and this week's doses, which totaled 1,900, most dedicated as second shots for people who've already had their first shot.

That leaves 900 doses for people age 70 and older, and all people who are eligible: health care professionals, first responders, people living in congregate care settings, and educators.

"Get on as many lists as you can," says Baker to eligible people who want vaccines.

Doses will be given through county public health, by private health care providers, and at the tri-county clinic put on by St. Charles at the Deschutes County Fair and Expo Center. Each requires a separate registration.

"Whoever gets to you first, that's great," says Baker. "If you're on our list and we call you and you already got the vaccine, we're not going to be upset that you got it from somebody else. We're going to be excited that you got it."

To a certain extent, appointments go on a first-come, first-served basis. People higher in priority ranking still go ahead of people lower on the list.

Now knowing how many doses it will receive, the public health department plans to hold community vaccination clinics in Madras on March 6 and on Crooked River Ranch sometime the week of March 15.

So far, about 10% of the county has been vaccinated. Baker says more people are willing to get the shots since earlier worries about side effects have not materialized. "We are seeing more individuals that were once hesitant are now coming forward to be vaccinated, which is great."

According to the Oregon Health Authority, Jefferson County will get 400 first doses each week for the next three weeks, along with enough supply for second doses.

While the rate of coronavirus cases continues to drop for Crook, Deschutes and other counties in the region, Jefferson County's case numbers stubbornly stay in the "extreme risk" category, the state standard that prevents opening businesses and restaurants.

Baker says several factors push the county's numbers: pandemic fatigue, political beliefs, underlying conditions. "It's also a reflection of our community. We have lots of multigenerational housing, lots of large families. That's what's driving our numbers."

Baker says businesses will open up sooner when the community commits to doing the same things he's been asking people to do all year: Don't gather in large groups, wash your hands frequently, keep your distance from other people, and wear a mask.

COVID VACCINE INFORMATION

PEOPLE ELIGIBLE FOR VACCINES:

Health care professionals

• First responders

• People living in congregate care such as nursing homes and prisons • Educators

• People age 70 and older

HOW TO SCHEDULE AN APPOINTMENT:

• Call Jefferson County Public Health, 541-475-4456

• Register at safeway.com

• Request an appointment at stcharleshealthcare.org/covidvaccine

• Contact your health care provider

SIGN UP FOR ALERTS

• Text ORCOVID to 898211

• Email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

• Call 211 or 1-866-689-6155 between 6 a.m. - 7 p.m. daily, including holidays (expect long waits)

• TTY: Dial 711 and call 1-866-689-6155


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