Focusing vaccines in Woodburn
Legacy Woodburn Health Center announced Tuesday, Feb. 9, that it is providing COVID-19 vaccinations to Marion County residents who are eligible to receive them under the prioritization guidelines established by the Oregon Health Authority.
Located at 1475 Mt. Hood Drive, Legacy Woodburn's vaccine site will be open three days a week and offer between 200 to 400 vaccines each day.
"As weekly state vaccine allocations increase, we will have the ability to offer more appointments," Legacy spokeswoman Kristin Whitney said in a press release.
Currently vaccines are available for individuals eligible in Phase 1 groups, including residents over age 80.
"Legacy Health is partnering closely with the Oregon Health Authority, Marion County Public Health and other area nonprofits and health systems to make sure we are vaccinating our vulnerable community members as quickly as possible and that we're equitably offering access to the vaccine," Whitney noted.
OHA has established a website, covidvaccine.oregon.gov, to inform people about eligibility and guide them in setting vaccination appointments.
Whitney noted that the website furnishes an interactive customer service agent window that walks users through a series of screening questions to determine eligibility. Once a county location is identified, Marion County residents will then be directed to Legacy Woodburn. Individuals who receive their first dose at Legacy will be able to return for their second dose.
Legacy sources cited data from the State of Oregon showing that Woodburn has been hit hard by COVID-19. At the height of the pandemic in Oregon, more than half of Marion County residents who tested positive for COVID-19 lived in Woodburn, even though Woodburn comprises less than 10% of the total population of the county.
"The Legacy Health vaccine clinic is intended to address a gap in access to vaccines in a region that the COVID-19 pandemic has disproportionately impacted," Whitney said.
"The Legacy Woodburn Health Center vaccination clinic is dedicated to serving residents of Marion County," she added. "If you live in a community such as Tigard, Newberg, Tualatin, West Linn, Wilsonville or Oregon City, we ask that you schedule your vaccination appointment through the Oregon Health Authority at the Oregon Convention Center."
The Oregon Convention Center vaccination site has been established to serve Multnomah, Washington and Clackamas County residents.
As of Feb. 10 Marion County has recorded 17,837 COVID-19 cases and 269 people have died from it.
About 50,000 people in Marion County have been immunized for COVID-19 or have at least received their first dose of the vaccination.
That figure was reported to the county's Board of Commissioners on Feb. 10. Those vaccinations have gone primarily to elderly and at-risk members of the population.
"This includes over 45,000 people in Phase 1a and just under 8,000 people in Phase 1b, which includes child-care providers, early-learning and k-12 educators and staff," Marion County Public Health Division Director Katrina Rothenberger said. "This week we are also beginning to immunize folks over the age of 80."
Rothenberger said county health officials hope to see 70 percent of the population vaccinated within a reasonable amount of time. Marion County remains listed as one of 14 Oregon counties classified as "Extreme Risk" level by Oregon Health Authority.
County health officials have fielded many questions about where the vaccine allotment. Rothenberger said the Marion County Health is allocated a given amount of doses weekly. For the second week in February, as an example, it was allotted 2,600 doses, about 75 percent of which went to providers in the north Marion County region, which has consistently recorded higher numbers of cases.
Salem Health received 1,000 doses, most of which were designated to be used in the Woodburn area. Legacy Health received 600 doses, while others went to Santiam Hospital, Silverton Pillbox and Marion County Health and Human Services.
The county health department also held a vaccination clinic at Woodburn High School on Thursday, Feb. 11.
"I understand there has been some frustration with many seniors who have not been able to sign up to receive their vaccine," Rothenberger said. "We are working with our partners to make the appointment process easier for our community.
"Several providers in Marion County – Salem Health, Legacy, Salud – are offering appointments. Try to keep in mind that demand for the vaccine is very high and supply is still low," she added. "We anticipate it will take through mid April to get 70 percent of those over the age of 65 immunized."
Health officials also recommend people get on vaccination waiting lists where available.
Commissioner Danielle Bethell emphasized outreach that helps seniors navigate the system in search of receiving a vaccination or getting on a waiting list.
"Our office received probably hundreds of inquiries via email or phone or other formats, trying to figure out how to engage those various systems to sign up," Bethell said. "So, if I had a parent that qualified, or a grandparent for that matter, I think it would be my responsibility to help them over that technology barrier."
She added: "I know all of our providers are trying to make that process as simple as possible, but there is information that is required and not an abundance of vaccines right now. So just stand forward and really facilitate that work on behalf of that 80-plus population right now."
Meanwhile, Commissioner Kevin Cameron reiterated the vitality of personal protective equipment and pandemic protocols.
"We had a citizen who asked a couple of questions (about) what are citizens supposed to be doing that we are not already doing to get ourselves into a lower bracket?" Cameron said in reference to the county's Extreme Risk classification.
Rothenberger said in order to drop a classification, from Extreme Risk to High Risk, which would allow more businesses to open, the county would have to record fewer than 200 cases per 100,000 people for a two-week period; the county recorded 695 cases over the two-week period and from Jan. 24 through Feb. 6 the county had 1,002 cases.
"So we have a little ways to go to decrease below the 200 per 100,000 threshold," Rothenberger said.
Cameron and Rothenberger both reemphasized the standing protocol: wear masks in public, wash hands and use hand sanitizer and avoid congregating in groups.
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