LANE COUNTY, Ore. -- The pandemic continues to take its toll, and some Oregonians are demanding answers about how vaccines are being given out.
“I really feel upset,” Oakridge resident Patty Lee said. “I have a family member who's already received his first vaccine and had an appointment for his second -- and that was over a week ago. I'm over 65. I'm wondering why a 36-year-old is getting vaccines who's strong and healthy but as a senior citizen, I have to wait. What’s going on here? Where are the vaccines going?”
Others told KEZI 9 News there needs to be more accountability regarding where the vaccines are going, saying that vulnerable seniors should not be placed behind others.
The state is still in Phase 1A of vaccine distribution. That includes nearly 400,000 people -- health care workers, those in long-term care facilities and congregate care settings, those with disabilities and other outpatient health care providers.
Next up is Phase 1B.
Oregonians 65 and older were supposed to get the shot this Saturday, but now seniors will have to wait until at least Feb. 8. That’s when those 80 and older can start to be vaccinated.
Each week after that, the age range goes down five years, so people who are around the age of 65 won’t be able to get the shot until March.
As of right now, educators can get their first dose of the vaccine starting next Monday, but KEZI 9 News spoke to officials with the Oregon Health Authority, who said teachers in certain counties already got their long-awaited shot in the arm last week. It depends on the supply at hand.
“We hope to vaccinate most educators within two weeks, but as always, that depends entirely on the doses we receive from the federal government. Beginning vaccinations of teachers early using extra doses is certainly a way that providers can accelerate vaccine access, although providers should continue to only vaccinate individuals within the Phase 1A,” OHA Lead Communications Officer Jonathan Modie said.
Dr. James McGovern is the Vice President of Medical Affairs for PeaceHealth.
“Everybody is limited by the supply of vaccine, and everybody wants it yesterday,” McGovern said. "We will get it out as fast as we can and as fast as that supply allows. Right now, the rate limiting step is really that supply of vaccines, and what I would say even more so is a reliable supply of vaccines.”
OHA said they expect it will take about 12 weeks to vaccinate everyone 65 and older and two weeks to vaccinate all 100,000 school workers in Oregon.
“It's not going fast enough for anyone involved, whether that's the governor, OHA or the systems who are trying to vaccinate -- we are all, I think, struggling with the pace and wish it were moving faster,” McGovern said.
As of Sunday, 3,783 PeaceHealth Oregon employees have received one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine.
OHA said that those who receive extra doses should give them to local public health leaders.