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Oregon health officials promise to speed up COVID-19 vaccinations
Oregon health officials expressed optimism at speeding up vaccine distribution throughout the state during a press conference on Tuesday, Jan. 5.
While just over 55,000 Oregonians have received their first dose, only one in four doses of the vaccine delivered to the state have been administered. This number is similar to California and just behind Washington.
Only 1.2% of Oregon's population has been vaccinated, ranking it 36th in the nation.
The press conference was held the same day the Oregon Health Authority reported 1,059 new cases of COVID-19 and an additional 44 deaths.
On Monday, Governor Brown expressed concern about the pace of vaccinations.
"Oregon, like most of the country, is not moving fast enough. All states are grappling with the same logistical challenges, and while we are making steady progress, we must move even more quickly when every vaccination has the potential to save someone's life," the governor said in a statement.
She directed the Oregon Health Authority to administer 12,000 vaccinations each day by the end of the next two weeks.
"That will put us on track to deploy every vaccine we have in our hands each week," she said. "OHA will be working with health care providers, pharmacies and local public health partners to streamline the distribution process to achieve that goal."
Effective this week, OHA will speed up Phase 1A prioritization.
"Now that most inpatient staff have received first doses, we're going to simplify the Phase 1A process and allow everyone in [Groups] 2-4 to seek a vaccination," Oregon Health Authority Director Patrick Allen said.
Allen said his team has learned some key lessons during the first 19 days of administration that will help them "ramp up efforts."
"We're speeding the number of doses delivered to unaffiliated health care workers, nursing home staff and others by supporting innovative partnerships, such as the collaboration between OHSU and SEIU to launch mobile vaccination clinics."
Allen said there have been no reports of spoilage and the vaccine has been handled properly.
"Our state remains particularly vulnerable to the virus. We need a critical mass of Oregonians to get vaccinated," Allen said.
"There are simply not enough doses to go around," Oregon State Chief Medical Officer Dana Hargunan said, adding the OHA needs to expand the number of administration sites.
In a statement to KOIN 6 News, Governor Brown's office said vaccinating educators and school staff is a top priority, but they haven't yet released the prioritization phases beyond Phase 1A.
The plan over the next several weeks continues to be to drive down infection rates across the state.
The cases announced Tuesday raised the state total to 119,488. The additional deaths increased the toll to 1,550.
The new cases were reported in the following counties: Baker (3), Benton (18), Clackamas (139), Clatsop (3), Columbia (3), Coos (17), Crook (22), Curry (2), Deschutes (69), Douglas (21), Harney (1), Hood River (5), Jackson (69), Jefferson (10), Josephine (26), Klamath (10), Lake (2), Lane (65), Lincoln (6), Linn (42), Malheur (16), Marion (99), Morrow (6), Multnomah (163), Polk (28), Sherman (1), Tillamook (4), Umatilla (75), Union (3), Wallowa (2), Wasco (6), Washington (100) and Yamhill (23).
KOIN News 6 is a news partner of the Portland Tribune. Their story can be found here.
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