Vaccine eligibility expanding


LINCOLN COUNTY — With a first COVID-19 vaccination timeline from the state that includes the general public, Lincoln County Public Health continues expanding its effort to get shots into arms.

Last week, the county administered more than 2,600 vaccines, including first and booster doses, health department Deputy Director Florence Pourtal told the Lincoln County Board of Commissioners on Monday. She said it expected to give 1,450 doses during clinics this week — the county received no doses four weeks ago, so no booster clinics were scheduled.

The county, in partnership with Samaritan Health, is currently vaccinating eligible groups — health care workers, educators and seniors 65 and older — at two main clinic sites, the Lincoln County Commons in Newport and North Lincoln Fire & Rescue’s station in Lincoln City’s Taft district. 

More than 8,000 people in the county received at least a first dose as of Thursday afternoon, according to the Oregon Health Authority, including those vaccinated at the Siletz Community Health Clinic and local pharmacies. The health department said it vaccinated about 31 percent of local residents 65 and older as of Wednesday.

Health department Public Information Officer Susan Trachsel said an agreement has been reached to use the Waldport Community Center as its south county vaccination site, and clinics could be held there as soon as the week after next. That would be right on time for an expansion in eligible recipients.

During a press conference Feb. 26, Oregon Gov. Kate Brown announced a new schedule for vaccine eligibility. Beginning March 29, adults aged 45 to 64 with certain high-risk conditions; agricultural, seafood and food processing workers; people currently displaced by the September 2020 wildfires; wildland firefighters; people living in low-income and congregate senior housing; and people experiencing homelessness can get a shot.

Trachsel said the county planned to hold special clinics for wildfire-displaced persons near where they are being housed.

On May 1, a new group becomes eligible, including a long list of frontline workers, as defined by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, people ages 16-45 with certain underlying medical conditions and those living in multigenerational households.

June 1, everyone older than 45 will be eligible, and all Oregonians 16 and older can receive the vaccine starting July 1. Find the full schedule, with CDC definitions of frontline workers and qualifying underlying conditions, at tinyurl.com/y9orpzev.

Brown said the timeline was dependent on federal supply arriving as planned. The recent emergency approval of a new vaccine by Johnson & Johnson, found to be slightly less effective than Moderna’s and Pfizer’s but requiring only a single dose, will bolster availability.

More than 10,000 people are on Lincoln County’s vaccine waiting list, from which the health department contacts eligible recipients to notify them when an appointment is available. 

Trachsel said, ”One thing we want the public to know is that the three approved vaccines are safe and effective, and we ask for patience as the federal distribution plan ramps up to get more vaccine to the local jurisdictions.”

She said next week the health department expected 300 doses to be delivered to North Lincoln Fire & Rescue for clinics in Taft, and 700 are expected to come to public health for its Newport clinics.

 “We will notify eligible people from our notification list by Friday (today) to sign up for the next clinics. We have thousands of people eligible on our list, so it may take a little time to get an appointment due to the limited vaccine supply,” Trachsel said.  

She said Lincoln City’s Bi-Mart, Safeways in Newport and Lincoln City and the Waldport Hi-School Pharmacy will also receive small allocations of vaccines next week. Those pharmacies are responsible for how they distribute their allotment and should be contacted via their websites for more information, Trachsel said.

Links to the vaccine waitlist, a list of regional clinic opportunities and general information about the vaccines can be found on the county website at co.lincoln.or.us/hhs/page/covid-19-vaccine. 

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