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County officials have been pushing state to send more COVID-19 vaccine doses to Columbia County.

PMG PHOTO: JONATHAN HOUSE - Oregon Governor Kate Brown gives an elbow bump to medical assistant Blanca Vasquez after receiving the single-shot Johnson & Johnson Covid-19 vaccine at the OHSU Primary Care Clinic in Scappoose on March 11.Columbia County received its highest COVID-19 vaccine dose allocation this week.

County officials have been advocating for more doses this year, as the county continues to have one of the lowest vaccination rates in the state.

The OHSU Primary Care Clinic in Scappoose was allocated 1,900 doses of the Moderna vaccine for the current week, 1,500 of which were for first shots and 400 for second shots.

Last week, Columbia County providers were allocated 1,100 doses with 100 doses each going to Columbia River Fire & Rescue, two Hi School Pharmacy locations, the Mist-Birkenfeld Rural Fire Protection District, and Columbia Community Mental Health. Only 500 of those were for first doses.

Hi School Pharmacy schedules appointments through the county public health department and receives a vaccine allocation from the state, but other pharmacies receive doses through a separate federal program.

In a March 9 letter to Gov. Kate Brown, Columbia County commissioners wrote that they had not known the governor was set to receive her COVID-19 vaccine in Scappoose until after the fact.

"It has come to our attention, via the media, that you visited Columbia County recently and received a Johnson & Johnson Covid vaccination at the OHSU Scappoose Clinic," the commissioners wrote. "We regret that we were unaware of your visit and were unable to welcome you to Columbia County and have the opportunity to discuss the successes and challenges that we have experienced in managing the pandemic locally and our struggle to acquire the needed supply of vaccine to service our population."

The commissioners wrote that with the effort of Columbia Health Services, local fire districts, county public health staff, OHSU and local pharmacies, they had the capacity to administer far more doses than they receive.

"We estimate our capability to administer vaccine at a minimum of 2,500 doses per week, however until the week of March 8, 2021, we have not received more than 800 doses in a week," the commissioners wrote.

However, allocation data provided by the Oregon Health Authority shows that 1,600 doses were allocated to Columbia County locations in the week of Feb. 28.

In response to questions about the discrepancy, Columbia County public health administrator Michael Paul said that the 800 referred to prime doses, which would be the first of two doses for Pfizer and Moderna. Paul said he would clarify that in his next public heath update, which takes place at the county board of commissioners' meeting every Wednesday at 10 a.m.

"Due to the lack of supply of doses, Columbia County is at the bottom of the list in the number of citizens vaccinated per 10,000 population. We are anxious to change this status. We would welcome a discussion with you to advise us as to how we might increase our supply of vaccine," the commissioners continued.

Patrick Allen, director of the Oregon Health Authority, said Wednesday, March 17, that all Oregonians age 16 and older will be eligible for a COVID-19 vaccination by May 1. Brown has suggested many may be eligible before then, including frontline workers and adults with medical conditions that may make them more susceptible to COVID-19 complications.


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