Lincoln County providers of COVID-19 vaccines on Wednesday began accepting appointments for all front-line workers, five days ahead of the state schedule.
The Oregon Health Authority gave 20 counties the green light to begin vaccinations for Group 7, which had been scheduled for eligibility on April 5. Lincoln County Public Health asked for permission to move ahead Tuesday afternoon when the next days’ clinics still had more than 600 vaccination slots open.
Appointments filled up quickly once eligibility was opened to everyone from waiters to grocery store clerks to transportation and delivery service workers — those with jobs that require regular close contact with people outside of their household. (For a full list of eligible job roles, see the CDC website at tinyurl.com/w84bvb79).
Also newly eligible are people living in multigenerational households and those ages 16 to 44 who have certain underlying health conditions (these include cancer, chronic kidney disease, COPD, Down Syndrome, heart conditions such as heart failure and coronary artery disease, immunocompromised state from solid organ transplant or HIV, obesity, pregnancy, sickle cell disease and Type 2 diabetes).
Regular clinics are held in Newport at the Lincoln County Commons and Samaritan’s Center for Health Education; in Lincoln City at North Lincoln Fire & Rescue’s Taft station; and in Waldport at the Waldport Community Center. There’s also a clinic scheduled April 3 at the fire station in Otis focused on reaching wildfire victims, as well two this week on the Newport Bayfront for seafood industry and migrant workers who became eligible last week under Group 6.
Additionally, the Siletz Community Health Clinic opened its drive-thru events to all county residents 18 and older, with priority given to tribal members, other Indigenous people, existing patients and residents of Siletz and Logsden.
The cooperative effort between county agencies, health care providers, emergency responders and other volunteers gave Lincoln County the second highest vaccination rate in the state this week — 36 out of 100 county residents, and two-thirds of people 16 or older, have had at least one dose of the vaccine. Several public clinic attendees have shared high praise for the organization and operation of the events on the News-Times opinion page and in emails to editorial staff.
Direct scheduling links for clinics run by public health, Samaritan Health Services, North Lincoln Fire & Rescue and Pacific West Ambulance Service are on the county website at tinyurl.com/e6wpyzr8. Several pharmacies also received vaccines, and appointments can be booked through those stores’ websites. The county maintains a list of other clinics at tinyurl.com/46az3brr.
After choosing a clinic and navigating to the sign-up form, select an appointment time and click “Submit and sign up.” This will take you to a second page to enter your name and contact information, as well as select the eligibility group to which you belong. Click “Sign Up Now,” and you’ll receive an email confirming your appointment.
The scheduling page lists which of the three available vaccines will be administered. In a statement Wednesday, the health department stressed that “the best vaccine is the first vaccine that is available to you.” The department has received a lot of inquiries regarding the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, which requires only a single dose, but supplies are currently limited and needed for those who have difficulty attending clinics.
With news that a Baltimore plant manufacturing the Johnson & Johnson vaccine ruined 15 million doses and must cease production while the Food and Drug Administration investigates, near-future supply of that vaccine is uncertain.
“Of course, if their doctor is telling them to wait for Johnson & Johnson, they should do that,” the health department said. “But if not, get it now — we really need to vaccinate our county as fast as possible to prevent the spread of any variants circulating in the country.”
At the Newport fairgrounds Wednesday afternoon, Eddie Anderson was among about 60 people receiving the Moderna vaccine during the 5:15 p.m. time slot. A roads maintenance employee for the Lincoln County Public Works Department, Anderson scheduled an appointment Wednesday as soon as he learned he was eligible. “I’m ready for things to go back to normal. I’m just doing my part,” Anderson said.
He and others receiving their first dose sat two per table, at opposite ends, in the front hall of the exhibition center. They listened to recorded information about the vaccine and possible side effects, and vaccinators began moving table to table as the same information was played in Spanish. Michelle Pelkey, a physician assistant in Newport, gave Anderson his injection.
Vaccine recipients then moved to the back hall to wait 15 minutes and schedule their second dose appointments. The Moderna drug requires a booster at least 28 days later for full effectiveness. Appointments for a second dose can also be made via clinic links on the county website.
The health department announced Tuesday it is closing its COVID-19 vaccine waitlist in favor of the state’s online portal. Those already on the list will still be notified of available appointments, but no more entries will be taken, and public health encourages everyone, even those already on the list, to sign up at getvaccinated.oregon.gov. For assistance with the Get Vaccinated Oregon portal, call 866-698-6155 from 6 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily.
“This portal will allow individuals to sign up for notifications about any new clinics in the state that are open to them. It will also be much easier for users to unsubscribe from notifications,” public health said in a Tuesday press release. The portal will be used for all public clinics held by the health department, North Lincoln Fire & Rescue, Pacific West Ambulance and Samaritan Health Services.