By Gordon McCraw, Tillamook County Emergency Manager & COVID-19 Incident commander
Since the announcement of the rollout of vaccine there has been much excitement. It has also caused quite a bit of confusion and raised a great number of questions. First, the State gave us guidance on which group gets the vaccine first and even that led to some gray areas. Next, the Governor’s Office announces that educators will become eligible on the 25th and other dates are provided for the 65+ age groups. Then the rumors start that some counties are moving forward before others. Well, the limiter in everything is the number of doses each county gets each week. Planning is a nightmare for the County as we find out on Friday, if we will get a shipment on Monday, and how much will be in the box.
Just to help give you some realistic expectations: Let me say, Tillamook County, to date, has received a little over 1,200 doses, some of those are second doses and have to be held for that purpose. This is why we are still working our way through the Phase 1a Groups. The State estimated there are approximately 400,000 statewide in Phase 1a. Phase 1b includes the educators and individuals 65+ in age and the state estimates there are about 800,000 individuals in this group. We have been given approval to start vaccinating educators even though we have not finished Phase 1a yet. At current vaccine levels, the state estimates it will take about 12 weeks to complete 1a and the educator groups.
So, what does all this mean? It means we currently have more people eligible to receive the vaccine, then vaccine itself, statewide! Add to the confusion, when you hear we have a certain amount of vaccine on hand, or that we are getting a certain amount of vaccine, remember, some of this has to be held back as second doses and CANNOT be used as Primary Doses. This assures anyone getting the primary dose will also get the second dose.
The moral of this story — be patient, continue to wear a mask, wash your hands frequently and stay 6’ apart. We are moving as fast as the amount of vaccine, and the guidance will let us. Just because you are eligible doesn’t mean you will get it today, or by the date the Governor’s office releases. We are moving through the Groups as fast as the vaccine will let us. Patience is the key, slow down and breath.
For more information, go to https://tillamookchc.org/coronavirus/vaccines/.