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Columbia County's vaccination rate is more than 8 points below statewide rate

PMG PHOTO: JONATHAN VILLAGOMEZ - Apart from the concert, St. Helens' 13 Nights on the River also hosts on-site COVID-19 vaccinations. Nurse Practitioner Emily Paddon with Columbia Health Services is seen giving Victoria Lukomskiy her first dose of the Pfizer vaccine.Columbia County's vaccination rate continues to lag behind the statewide average.

As of July 26, 62.8% of Columbia County adults had received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, according to data.

Across Oregon, 71.4% of adults had been vaccinated as of July 26, according to CDC data,

OHA reported lower numbers for the counties and the state totals, but those numbers don't include residents who were vaccinated outside of Oregon, by tribal authorities, or by the VA.

While vaccination rates were steadily climbing in the first few months of the year, held back primarily by a lack of available doses, the daily vaccination rate has slowed this summer as demand has waned.

The seven-day running average reported July 21 was 45 doses per day. At its peak, the running average was more than 12 times that rate, reaching 545 doses per day in mid-April.

The vaccination clinics in Scappoose, organized by the county's public health department and OHSU Family Medicine, ran on Wednesday and Friday evenings starting in late April. Those events ended at the end of June.

Many of the large vaccination sites that administered thousands of shots each day earlier in the year have shut down in recent months, including the Oregon Convention Center, Portland International Airport and Hillsboro Stadium sites.

As demand has dropped, local health leaders are trying to make getting the vaccine as convenient as possible.

"At this point, we are finding those who still need the vaccine are looking for convenient places to do it, so we are trying to be as conveniently located as possible," Columbia Health Services Director Sherrie Ford said.

Columbia Health Services has been offering vaccinations at 13 Nights on the River, St. Helens' summer concert series, which runs most Thursday evenings through August. Ford said they have vaccinated 15 to 30 people at each weekly concert.

Columbia Health Services and Columbia River Fire & Rescue offered vaccinations at the Columbia County Fair and Rodeo earlier this month. CRF&R said they administered 54 vaccines over the week of Rainier Days and the fair.

Licensed healthcare workers are vaccinated at higher rates than the general population, Oregon Health Authority data shows. As of early July, 70% of licensed health care workers in Oregon were vaccinated. In Columbia County, 62% were vaccinated.

Only one of the three COVID-19 vaccines available in the United States, Pfizer, is approved for kids age 12 and up. Columbia County's vaccination rate is 60.3% among ages 12 and older. The vaccination rate for residents 65 and older is far higher, at 87.4%.

South Columbia County is holding up the county's vaccination rate, {obj:55563:zip code } data from OHA shows. In the 97056 zip code, which includes Scappoose, 60.3% of residents were vaccinated in the state. Up the Columbia River, vaccination rates dropped. The 97048 zip code reported a vaccination rate of just 27%.

However, the state data only includes vaccinations received in Oregon. A Columbia County resident who received their vaccine in Hillsboro is still counted in the Columbia County rate, but a Rainier resident who crossed the bridge to Longview, Washington, for their vaccine wouldn't be included in the Oregon Health Authority's data, which likely accounts for some of the difference between rates in different zip codes.

The OHA data also doesn't include vaccinations administered by the VA or some tribal authorities.

As of early June, 1,866 Columbia County residents had been vaccinated in Washington state. The Washington State Department of Health had not provided more recent numbers as of press time.

Earlier this year, the state planned to move counties to "lower risk" once the local vaccination rate hit 65% for residents 16 years and older. Columbia County was one of many counties that never hit that goal but were allowed to reopen when restrictions were lifted statewide in late June, in anticipation of the state reaching 70% of adults vaccinated.

The state has reported 32 deaths in Columbia County since the pandemic began.

Since April 19, the day all Oregonians age 16 and older were eligible for vaccination, the state has reported six COVID-19 deaths in Columbia County. However, only two of those deaths took place after April 19. On July 13, the state reported two deaths in Columbia County, but those took place Nov. 26 (a 71-year-old man) and March 30 (a 93-year-old man).

COVID-19 deaths peaked in November and December 2020. In the week of Dec. 6, 153 Oregonians died from COVID-19. Since the beginning of June, fewer than 20 deaths per week have been reported in the state.

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