State’s first COVID-19 vaccines given to health care workers

More than 35,000 doses expected in Oregon before week’s end; Director Allen clarifies remarks

PORTLAND, Ore.— COVID-19 immunizations with the new Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine began today in Oregon, kicking off a statewide effort that could see thousands of health care workers getting first doses by week’s end.

The state is expected to receive 35,100 doses this week, according to the Oregon Health Authority Immunization Program, citing federal allocation estimates. The first shipments from that batch arrived Monday and Tuesday, when four health systems — Legacy Health, Oregon Health & Science University and Kaiser Permanente and Saint Alphonsus — received a total of 4,875 doses.

Hospital staff at OHSU, Saint Alphonsus Medical Center in Ontario, and at Legacy Health’s Holladay Park and Meridian Park sites started getting vaccinated today; Kaiser expects to begin its vaccinations on Friday.

Of this week’s federal vaccine allotment, 10,725 doses are being sent to pharmacies serving skilled nursing facilities as part of a federal partnership with CVS, Walgreens and Consonus Healthcare to offer on-site, no-cost COVID-19 vaccines to staff and residents of more than 680 long term care facilities in Oregon. Their vaccinations are set to begin sometime next week, and will begin with skilled nursing facilities, but eventually will be used to vaccinate in a variety of congregate care settings, including a handful of facilities caring for residents with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

In all, between 300,000 and 400,000 health care workers, and long-term care facility staff and residents in Oregon are slated for vaccination against COVID-19 during the first phase of the state’s vaccination distribution effort.

The remaining 19,500 doses from this week’s batch will be distributed to health facilities around the state over the next several days.

More Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine deliveries are scheduled the weeks of Dec. 20 and Dec. 27, when allocations of 25,350 and 48,750, respectively, are expected to arrive in Oregon.

Ansu Drammeh, R.N., a cardiovascular intensive care nurse at OHSU, is given the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine on Wednesday, December 16 by Ryan Thrower, D.M.D., who, according to OHSU, is the first dental resident in the United States to administer a COVID-19 vaccine.

The allocation of 25,350 doses of Pfizer-BioNTech now scheduled to arrive in Oregon the week of Dec. 20 is a reduction from the original amount of 40,950 Oregon was previously scheduled to have allocated during that week. Federal officials notified the state about the change today.

A COVID-19 vaccine made by Moderna Inc., which is expected to receive FDA emergency use authorization within days, also are scheduled for delivery in the state before the end of the month — 71,900 doses the week of Dec. 20 and 31,700 doses the week of Dec. 27. These allocation numbers are provided to states by the CDC for planning purposes, but are subject to change.

If estimated allocations for Oregon are received, state health officials expect health systems will have a sufficient amount of vaccine to provide first doses to more than 100,000 health care workers and long term care facility residents by the end of the month.

Speaking during a news conference with Gov. Kate Brown and representatives from the health facilities that received vaccine deliveries this week, OHA Director Patrick Allen said: “On Feb. 28, 2020 — 292 days ago — the world changed for all of us. That was the day the first COVID-19 case was diagnosed in Oregon,” Allen said. “Today the world has changed again. Today we’ve seen the first COVID-19 vaccinations in Oregon. I want every Oregonian to know: COVID-19 vaccination is the safest, most effective and most reliable way to keep yourself, your family and your community healthy and safe from COVID-19.”

Director Allen also clarified his comments at the news conference: “Earlier today, I was imprecise in describing the number of doses currently on the ground in Oregon. I’m also afraid my comments about the speed at which health care workers would receive second doses was confusing. I take responsibility for my inaccuracy. As we move forward, it’s vital that the Oregon Health Authority is fully transparent, accurate, reliable and consistent in all aspects of our vaccination program, especially our data. I pledge that I will do better.”