Snowstorm Vaccines in Josephine County Goes Viral – Not even snow keeps these public health workers from vaccinating; Vaccine Voices

Josephine County Public Health (JCPH) staff found themselves with a dilemma this week: Waste vaccine or find people who needed it. And when they shared their story on Facebook, it went, well, viral.

Jason Roberts, Web and Public Information Officer for Josephine County, said, “We are extremely appreciative of the national and international attention our intrepid public health professionals have rightfully gotten for their efforts to not waste a drop of the COVID-19 vaccine during Tuesday’s snowstorm. What’s more, so many members of the public have expressed their support of this unexpected, unorthodox vaccination clinic. These are extraordinary times, and it’s great to see extraordinary people going above and beyond.”

Here’s the story they shared on their Facebook page on Tuesday January 26th:

When Josephine County Public Health staff and volunteers concluded their mass vaccination event at the Illinois Valley High School (IVHS) this afternoon, they never guessed they might be setting up an impromptu clinic on the way back to Grants Pass. But that’s exactly what happened when a snowstorm stranded about 20 personnel on Highway 199 near Hayes Hill.

At the end of the IVHS clinic, the team had six doses of COVID-19 vaccinations left to administer. Recipients had been identified in Grants Pass, but the snow meant those doses wouldn’t make it to them before they expired. Not wanting to waste any doses, dedicated JCPH staff members began walking from car to car, offering stranded motorists a chance at receiving the vaccine (with an ambulance from AMR-Josephine County on hand for safety).

In the end, all six doses were administered, including one to a Josephine County Sheriff’s Office employee who had arrived too late for the IVHS clinic but, ended up stopped with the others on her way back to Grants Pass.

JCPH Director Mike Weber said it was one of the coolest operations he’d been a part of.

 

Vaccine Voices: Every vaccine is another step toward herd immunity

Liam Russell is 16 years old and a junior at Corvallis High School. He uses a power wheelchair for mobility and likes to read, draw, hang out with his friends and to go out to eat good food. He’s been doing distance learning since March of last year. Liam and his parents will get their second doses of the Pfizer vaccine (which is recommended for ages 16 and older) this coming Monday, Feb. 1.

Liam shares: “I got the COVID-19 vaccine to protect myself, my family, and my community. I knew that because of my disability, COVID was more serious for me. I took the vaccine because I believe in science, and I know that every vaccine given is another step toward herd immunity. For me, the vaccine is the light at the end of a year-long tunnel. Even though my friends and I have been able to hang out together outside, socially distanced, with masks, it’s just not the same. I also miss my school community. I miss seeing my teachers in person. I really look forward to having my senior year be in person again. When quarantine is over and it is safe, I want to go to Portland and eat some great food, like Din Tai Fung or Queen of Sheba, and maybe go to Powell’s Books.”

As OHA learns more about when and where vaccinations are available, information will continue to be posted at covidvaccine.oregon.gov and vacunacovid.oregon.gov.

Liam seated in wheelchair smiles at the camera. Sister, Ada, hugs Liam and laughs with eyes closed.

Liam (16) with his little sister, Ada (8).