Clatsop County expects to start using a new shipment of six hundred doses of COVID-19 vaccine today. For the first time, some seniors—outside of those in congregate care facilities—will be eligible. KMUN’s Jacob Lewin reports.
Two hundred county residents over the age of 80 are expected to get the vaccines this week—one hundred today in Seaside and one hundred Thursday in Astoria. The state had recommended prioritizing based on underlying conditions, but Vaccine Task Force head Chris Laman says almost all of those over 80 who completed a county survey have underlying conditions and so it will be oldest first.
“We at the task force were faced with, well how do we pick whether heart failure is more important than diabetes and in the end, the decision was made the group, we’re just going to go based on age.”
Those seniors had filled out surveys and were then emailed or called to come to the clinics. The task force hopes to repeat the process next week. Laman says he is trying hard to make sure that no one is missed.
“There’s a huge part of the population that has no access to internet, they don’t have computers, they don’t have e-mail addresses and so we’re very hopeful at the beginning to early parts of next week, a post card will be sent out to everyone in the community that is 65 or over.”
The task force is compiling a master list of those over 65 from lists of patients provided by the two hospitals and doctors’ offices. Also this week, more school employees and daycare workers and a relatively small number of health care workers will be vaccinated, but there continues to be a shortage of vaccine coming from the state.
“The county health department has not ended a week with first doses in the refrigerator. We’ve been giving everything we get. The doses show up on Mondays, and we’ve been giving doses on Tuesday and Thursday and Friday we don’t have anything left.”
The task force is charge with managing and coordinating vaccine distribution but its meetings have been closed to the public and media. County commissioner Pam Wev says that’s because it is not setting policy.
“They’re not making any decisions, they’re talking about okay we’re gonna get ex number of doses, this is the facility we’re going to use and this is how we’re gonna run it. If we opened up all of our staff meetings, it would really infringe on our abilities to be candid and cooperative with each other.”
And Wev thinks the task force members, which include hospital and county staff, have really risen to the occasion. For KMUN, I’m Jacob Lewin.