Local News


By Jacob Lewin


The first batch of covid-19 vaccine is expected to arrive in Astoria next week.  Columbia Memorial Hospital made the announcement on Monday. 

CMH will be getting 300 doses of the Moderna vaccine, which was shown to be 94% successful in recent studies. Pharmacy Director Chris Laman has a lot of confidence in the vaccine:

“It is very effective and while it does have some side effects, no severe side effects were noted in the trials. Really the vaccine is what’s going to get us through the pandemic, so very exciting news.” 

Laman expects a second batch of the vaccine to arrive early in January to cover more people plus
vaccine for necessary folo-up shots.  The vaccine will be given to staff who are working with covid patients or exposed to them:

“That would be physicans and nurses in our emergency department, nurses and physicians taking care of patients on the inpatient side of the house and then folks working in our  urgent care facilities.”

Some is also being reserved for emergency medical personnel:

“We have reached out to the teams at Medix, identified 75 individuals who work for Medix who would be eligible.: 

The shots won’t be mandatory.  Nursing home patients are also part of the state’s phase one roll-out, but Laman says the state has not yet shared its operating plan and the vaccine will  go through pharmacies.Next will be essential workers, including police and fire, followed by at-risk and over-65 year olds. CMH did not get the other major vaccine made by Pfizer because it does not have the necessary 80-degrees below zero freezer, but….

“We do have a contract in place now with AirGas to supply us with pelleted dry ice, so if we were to get a supply of the Pfizer vaccine, it comes in a container that you can replenish with dry ice.” 

Clatsop County health director Mike McNickle says vaccinating health care workers first is logical:

“We can’t afford all of our hospital workers and health care workers to get ill with covid, otherwise who’s going to take care of all the folks who have covid. So the idea is to get them immune first so that they’ll be able to do more work with covid rather than getting sick with covid.” 

The state says vaccinating everyone who wants a shot could take into the fall and covid levels in Clatsop County remain high:

“It’s pretty much everywhere from Cannon Beach to Knappa and all of the way out to Jewell.  It’s pretty much everywhere. So I think it’s just a matter of who’s getting tested right now, not where it’s at.”

Meaning there should be no let-up in mask wearing or distancing, although McNickle is expecting another surge after Christmas.