Recent vaccine distributions in Corvallis have been meeting Governor Kate Brown’s daily target of 12,000 doses administered per day, and the process continues to evolve as Good Samaritan Regional Medical Center and Benton County receive guidance from Oregon Health Authority.
COVID-19 vaccinations, both Moderna and Pfizer, are underway in the county due to a partnership between Samaritan Health Services and Benton County Health Department.
Jonathan Modie, lead communications officer in the Public Health Division of OHA, said in an email that Oregon’s vaccination rates are improving, per data from the Centers for Disease Control.
“According to the CDC, Oregon ranks 8th in the nation in percentage of vaccines administered at 65%, as of Jan. 20, 2021, and ranks 14th in the nation in the percent of population vaccinated at 4.6 percent,” Modie said.
This means that 65% of the vaccines Oregon has received have been distributed to people, placing the state at 8th in the nation, while 4.6% of Oregon’s population have actually received the vaccination, placing the state at 14th in the nation.
Additionally, according to OHA data, as of Jan. 20, nurses and other staff at Oregon vaccination sites have administered 225,066 doses of vaccine.
“To date, Oregon is a week ahead of schedule in vaccinating our Phase 1a health care workers, first responders and people who live or work in nursing homes and other long-term care residences,” Modie said. “We’ve now vaccinated nearly 2 out of 3 people in Phase 1A groups.”
OHA data also reveals that for the seven-day period of Jan. 12 through Jan. 18, Oregon averaged 12,289 vaccinations per day, with a high of 15,094 on Jan. 15, meeting Governor Brown’s daily target of 12,000 doses administered per day.
The CDC advises OHA on weekly allocations available to Oregon, based on a pro-rata system, meaning that distribution is determined by evaluating the population in need by risk category.
“For Oregon, that is approximately 1.28%,” Modie explained. “OHA is currently using a ‘push-model’ where agency teams enter orders for enrolled providers. OHA places orders with CDC to ship to providers based on populations they can serve and available refrigeration/freezer capacity.”
Then the vaccines are delivered directly to providers using CDC’s contracted delivery organizations.
At this time, Kelly Locey, health department communications coordinator, said in an email that vaccinations are available for people in priority group 1a. Individuals who are eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine at this time must complete Benton County’s needs assessment survey in order to schedule their vaccination appointment.
Efforts to speed distribution across the state are well underway. In the week of Jan. 11, Locey said the number of doses administered increased by 75% in Benton County, from 1,200 to 2,100 doses.
In addition, Locey explained both Benton County Public Health and Good Samaritan Regional Medical Center in Corvallis are in routine communication with OHA. In the last allocation from OHA, Benton County received 2,250 new vaccines and 975 booster vaccine doses.
Infectious disease specialist Dr. Adam Brady, chair of the Samaritan Coronavirus Task Force, provided insight into the vaccination process at Good Samaritan Regional Medical Center.
“We have been administering vaccinations to Samaritan employees and non-employed health care workers who have direct patient-care responsibilities in our hospitals, since Dec. 18,” Brady said via email.
In addition, Brady said the hospital administers vaccinations to individuals in their own communities who fall within the OHA’s phase 1a categories.
“These vaccinations are taking place by appointment only at our SamCare Express clinics in Corvallis and Albany, and our walk-in clinics in Lincoln City and Newport,” Brady said. “We are offering these vaccinations for free in partnership with the Benton, Lincoln and Linn county health departments.”
Modie also shared that the OHA has made some important changes in recent weeks that should bring more efficiency to the process and accelerate vaccine distribution efforts.
This included improving data reporting with ongoing support to local vaccination sites, so OHA data more accurately reflects actual vaccine administration on the ground, and OHA has more reliable information that they can use to make allocation decisions.
Changes also included encouraging vaccine provider sites to quickly give out inventory of doses on hand to lessen the chance of distribution delays. In areas with greater population or need, health systems such as Kaiser Permanente, Providence Health and Services, OHSU and Legacy Health will encourage and promote mass vaccination events.
“Such high-capacity vaccination clinics will be important in immunizing large numbers of people to help us build the community immunity that will eventually bring an end to this pandemic,” Modie said.
Recent OHA developments also expand vaccinations to people at highest risk in Phase 1a, by leveraging partnerships through the federal pharmacy program to bring mobile vaccination clinics to homes serving people with intellectual and developmental disabilities, adult foster homes, behavioral health programs and other group settings that serve vulnerable people.
Brady also wanted to reassure people that these vaccines are safe.
“The number of people who participated in the clinical trials was more than double what we usually see in a clinical trial,” Brady said. “All of the necessary testing steps were completed, albeit in a very short amount of time because so many people were willing to participate in the trials.”
Additionally, the two vaccines being administered have an effectiveness rate of 95% of preventing illness from the virus.
“I have received both doses at this point and I have no concerns about the safety of these vaccines,” Brady said. “This may be our most effective tool to help end this pandemic and I strongly encourage everyone to get a vaccine when it becomes available.”
He noted that as people wait to be vaccinated, and even after receiving the vaccine, it will be important to continue with COVID-19 precautions like wearing face coverings, handwashing and physical distancing until infection rates dwindle to the point of allowing “normal” activities in the community.
The Benton County websiteallows people to sign up to receive updates about COVID-19 Vaccine Distribution and Administration in Benton County.