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Oregon now says all adults will be eligible for COVID-19 vaccine May 1

Margene Haworth, left, receives a COVID-19 vaccination from McMinnville paramedic Elle Miller, Feb. 5, 2021, at Friendsview Retirement Community in Newberg, Ore. Oregon officials say all adults will be eligible to schedule vaccinations by May 1.
Kristyna Wentz-Graff
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Margene Haworth, left, receives a COVID-19 vaccination from McMinnville paramedic Elle Miller, Feb. 5, 2021, at Friendsview Retirement Community in Newberg, Ore. Oregon officials say all adults will be eligible to schedule vaccinations by May 1.

The Oregon Health Authority told OPB on Wednesday that all adult Oregonians will be eligible to get vaccinated against COVID-19 by May 1.

President Joe Biden set the May 1 timeline earlier this month, but Oregon Gov. Kate Brown said that while she would like to meet that timeline, she wouldn’t change the state’s schedule until she was sure enough vaccines would arrive.

The hesitation stems from a promises made for vaccines under the Trump administration, which then did not arrive.

Now, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has sent Oregon an order to make all Oregonians eligible by May 1.

Speaking on Think Out Loud on Wednesday, Oregon Health Authority Director Patrick Allen said the state will comply with the federal request.

“It leaves us a little bit nervous,” Allen said. “To be fair, this administration has generally been pretty good about what it has assured us we will be able to see.”

Listen to the full conversation:

The timeline doesn’t mean everyone will be able to get a vaccine May 1, but they can start to apply for an appointment then.

Allen said the Oregon Health Authority is considering making some people eligible sooner if they would have been permitted May 1, such as frontline workers, people in multi-generational households and younger people with pre-existing conditions.

Biden also said the federal government is looking into making it easier for people to secure appointments to get vaccinated.

Allen said he doesn’t know what that new federal system might look like, but he thinks that vaccine supplies heading to Oregon should double by May 1.

“These problems actually get easier rather than harder, because effectively you start being able to find vaccine everywhere,” Allen said. “At that point you find it at your local health care providers office. You find it at your local pharmacy in more quantities than it is now.”

The state will also continue to offer the shots at mass vaccination clinics currently in operation.

Charles Boyle with Governor Brown’s office said she is following up with the Biden administration for more specifics about when vaccine shipments will increase, “But in a briefing with governors earlier this week, it was clear the White House has worked hard to secure additional vaccine supplies for states in the coming weeks,” he said.

“We will continue to center equity in all of our vaccine distribution efforts, whether that means ensuring that seniors, people with underlying conditions, frontline workers, and the Oregonians most vulnerable to COVID-19 have the opportunity for vaccinations prior to May 1––or after May 1, working with local health partners to ensure these priority groups continue to have access to appointments.”

The Oregon Health Authority partnered with Google to create a tool for vaccine registration. The website, getvaccinated.oregon.gov, won’t provide appointments, but it will find a provider when someone is eligible.

Copyright 2021 Oregon Public Broadcasting

Kristian Foden-Vencil is a veteran journalist/producer working for Oregon Public Broadcasting. He started as a cub reporter for newspapers in London, England in 1988. Then in 1991 he moved to Oregon and started freelancing. His work has appeared in publications as varied as The Oregonian, the BBC, the Salem Statesman Journal, Willamette Week, the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, NPR and the Voice of America. Kristian has won awards from the Associated Press, Society of Professional Journalists and the Association of Capitol Reporters and Editors. He was embedded with the Oregon National Guard in Iraq in 2004 and now specializes in business, law, health and politics.
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