'Historic' mass vaccination sites close at PDX, Oregon Convention Center
Though two of the busiest vaccination sites in Portland shut down Saturday — the Oregon Convention Center and The Red Lot at Portland International Airport — leaders at each location said they felt a sense of accomplishment and had made a real difference.
"I feel like it's probably one of the most important things I've done in my life to be part of such a historic event," said Connie Amos, the site leader for the PDX Mass Vaccination Clinic.
Amos said they've administered more than 250,000 vaccines and served more than 100,000 people in partnership with OHSU, the Red Cross and the Port of Portland, which owns and operates PDX.
"It really was an opportunity to bring the port's logistics expertise. We know how to set things up and move people and things around," said Kama Simonds with the Port of Portland. "OHSU, obviously, brings the medical knowledge and the vaccine and the Red Cross brings the volunteers. So together it was a pretty awesome team."
MaryJane Rose, the volunteer lead organizer for the site, said it's been "an amazing five months. And when we called to respond to help with the vaccination site, our volunteers came out in droves. … We've been through rainy days. There's been some hot days."
Red Cross volunteers toughed it out to help with traffic control and other duties to get patients through the clinics efficiently.
"What we are seeing happening in our community today, people going back out, people going into parks again, people having dinners again, that could not have happened without these vaccinations," Rose said.
The mass clinic at the Oregon Convention Center vaccinated the last of its patients June 19. For Chris Markesino the operations chief at the center, it was a historic time.
"As we close today, I really feel accomplished, like we did something historic here and really made a difference in our community," he told KOIN 6 News. "I really want to thank the staff. They were the ones that really made this a success. And I want to say thank you to the families as well because I know the families endured a lot of time missing their loved ones."
Markesino said they will document everything, including lessons they learned — just in case they have to do this again.
"We are preparing for the worst, which might be a booster shot, so that's why we are storing everything and cataloging it meticulously so we know where it's all at in case the state asks us to set something up again like this," he said.
The mass vaccination site at the Hillsboro Stadium will remain open until Friday, June 25, and no appointments are needed. Both walkups and drive-ups are available to anyone 12 years and older.
Gov. Kate Brown said as of Saturday, Oregon needed just 51,616 more people to get their shot to hit the statewide goal of 70% vaccination and do away with almost all pandemic restrictions.
A previous Portland Tribune story about the mass vaccination clinic at PDX can be found here.
KOIN 6 News is a news partner of the Portland Tribune.
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