LANE COUNTY, Ore. -- A big announcement in the COVID-19 vaccine front: Oregon is moving forward with booster shots.
The Oregon Health Authority had been waiting on a recommendation from the Western States Scientific Safety Review Workgroup that just came in on Friday.
Earlier, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recommended the booster for those 65 and older and for those who are immunocompromised six months after the second Pfizer dose.
They're also giving it the green light for younger age groups. People age 18 to 64 with underlying medical conditions and those at risk of being exposed to COVID-19 at work can get a booster as well.
Now that the Pfizer booster dose will be rolled out across Oregon for those recommended groups, counties in the area are getting ready.
In Douglas County, there are more than 30 active local vaccine providers that can provide booster doses, and health officials there are looking into mass vaccination events starting in October.
Meanwhile, in Benton County, Samaritan Health Services is planning to offer a vaccine clinic on the Oregon State University campus which will offer first and second doses as well as booster doses to those who are eligible.
Health officials in Linn County said they are ready for a mass vaccination clinic to be available at the Linn County fairgrounds.
Steve Adams, the incident commander for Lane County's COVID-19 response, said along with a mass vaccination clinic opening up at the Lane Events Center next week, there will also be other options.
"We have pharmacies with vaccine available throughout the county, and individuals who are now newly eligible can go get that third dose there as well," said Adams.
Adams also said additional mass vaccination clinics will open up in the near future, and they will be making the transition to indoors instead of relying on the outdoor drive-through clinics.
With these newest recommendations from federal committees, there may be some questions about what side effects one can experience after getting a third shot.
Dr. Bob Pelz, an infectious disease expert at PeaceHealth's RiverBend Hospital, said there are reports of mild flu-like symptoms after getting a booster dose, much like after getting the second dose of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines.
Another common question: Can you mix the vaccines? Doctors have explored this, but they say for now you can only get a booster dose of the Pfizer vaccine if that's what you got initially.
"I will say that it's just staggering how much we've learned about this virus in such a short period of time. Had this happened 10 or 20 years ago, we wouldn't have a vaccine and it would have been a rampant pandemic. Fortunately we have safe and effective vaccines available," said Pelz.
Pelz and others in the county are encouraging people to get vaccinated.
As far as when people can expect booster shots to become available to other groups, Adams said this could be in the near future. The same goes for expanding vaccine eligibility to children ages 5 to 11.
"We learned earlier this week that Pfizer will submit their package to the FDA, and we do believe that will be under review in a very quick process," said Adams.
A former Eugene resident, Robert Gleeson, said he would roll up his sleeve a third time if he was given the chance.
"I've gotten a tetanus booster shot every 10 years, I get a flu shot every fall and have for 20 years, and no problems with getting a shot," said Gleeson.