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Medical centers receive some dosages and expect many more in the coming weeks

PMG FILE PHOTO - Hospitals throughout the nation have begun receiving the vaccine for COVID-19 and are busy preparing plans for who will receive the drugs and when.

Hospitals throughout the nation have begun receiving the vaccine for COVID-19 and are busy preparing plans for who will receive the drugs and when.

On Dec. 11, the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) issued emergency use authorization for the first vaccine found to prevent COVID-19, created by Pfizer and BioNTech in record time over the past nine months. A second vaccine, produced by Moderna and the National Institutes for Health, was approved by the FDA last week and should be available nationwide in the coming weeks.

Locally, hospitals are preparing to begin administering the vaccines as soon as possible.

"With these authorizations, local hospitals are expected to receive their first supply next week and Yamhill County Public Health will receive their supply in the coming weeks," a news release from the department said Dec. 16.

Last week, Providence Newberg Medical Center received a portion of the 2,000 vaccine doses of the Pfizer vaccine distributed to Providence Health & Services outlets around the state.

"We are finalizing our plans for where and when these vaccines will be administered," PNMC spokesman Mike Antrim said, "and caregivers are signing up to receive the vaccines as they are available. We are giving priority to frontline caregivers whose work places them closest to patients with COVID-19."

He added that the addition of the Moderna vaccine, once it is approved by the FDA, will allow Providence to "have enough doses available to reach our caregivers in greatest need of the vaccination by the end of the year."

Following OHA protocol, the vaccines will be distributed in phases to the highest risk populations — hospital workers, emergency medical personnel, and residents and staff at long-term care facilities. As more vaccine becomes available, additional health care workers will have the option of being vaccinated.

Ultimately, additional groups and the general public will be eligible for vaccination.

"These additional priority populations have not been specified at this point in time," the OHA release said. "We will continue to update the public as more information becomes available."

Continue the fight

Despite the arrival of vaccinations, public health authorities are urging people to continue to take precautions to avoid contracting the virus.

"We will only get ahead of this if we get a substantial portion of the population vaccinated," said Dr. William Koenig, Yamhill County health officer. "Until then, it is critical to continue to wear a mask, maintain physical distance, wash your hands often and keep your social circles small."

County's grim numbers

Although Yamhill is one of Oregon's counties to suffer the least impact from the coronavirus, it has not been completely immune. As of Dec. 16, 36 individuals had died from COVID-19, the number of reported cases in the county is approaching 2,500 and upward of 45,000 negative cases have been tallied.

McMinnville has proven to be the hotspot in the county with 1,040 cases and a rate of 287.8 cases per 10,000 residents. Newberg tallied 577 cases as of Dec. 16, a rate of 204 per 10,000 residents.

Although Dayton has only had 164 cases, it has established a rate of 344.4 per 10,000 to lead the county by percentage. Lafayette has earned a rate of 286.1 per 10,000 resident and 107 cases.

Forty-six percent of the cases in Yamhill County are among the white population (127.27 cases per 10,000 residents), which accounts for 76.6% of the county's overall population at 82,030 people. The Hispanic/Latino population accounted for 804 of the county's cases as of Dec. 16, a rate of 16.2% among the 17,378 residents (462.25 cases per 10,000).

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