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Western States Workgroup Gives Nod To Moderna Vaccine

Oregon Health Authority
Oregon Health Authority

A workgroup of nationally acclaimed scientists with expertise in immunization and public health has determined that the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine is safe and efficacious for use in the Western United States.

The Western States Scientific Safety Review Workgroup provided its confirmation to the governors of Oregon, Washington, California and Nevada after a review of the federal vaccine approval process. This makes the Moderna vaccine the second COVID-19 vaccine supported for use in these states. Shipments are expected to arrive in Oregon early this week.

The Moderna vaccine does not have the same extreme cold-storage requirements as the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine that has already been used in Oregon and other states.

In a Sunday press release, Oregon Gov. Kate Brown said the Moderna vaccine gives the state “the ability to reach communities across rural Oregon and the West that don’t have easy access to cold storage.” She added that “now, we must do everything we can to distribute vaccines as quickly and equitably as possible, to protect our frontline health care workers, long-term care residents and staff, and the communities most at risk from COVID-19.”

Gov. Brown also referenced issues surrounding the distribution of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, noting that “the last week has made clear that we also need accurate information from our federal partners about vaccine distribution. With these first vaccinations comes a great sense of hope, but we still have a long road ahead before we’re out of this pandemic.”

Officials, including Gov. Brown, continue to help slow the spread. “Until vaccines are widely available, we need all Oregonians to do everything we can to protect our families and loved ones from this deadly disease,” she said. “Wear a mask, avoid gatherings this holiday season, and stay home when you are sick. We will beat this pandemic the same way we have made it through the last ten months: by working together.”

The first doses of Pfizer-BioNTech's COVID-19 vaccine arrived in Oregon on Dec. 14. The initial round of vaccines is being distributed to healthcare workers. 

The state expects that by the end of the month, more than 100,000 Oregonians, mostly healthcare workers, will have received their first shot of the vaccine.

The Oregon Health Authority announced one new COVID-19 death and 1,153 news cases of the virus Sunday. Since the start of the pandemic 1,341 Oregonians have died from COVID-19 and there have been 102,930 cases in the state.

Oregon, along with Washington and Nevada, joined California’s COVID-19 Scientific Safety Review Workgroup in October. The workgroup says it will It will continue to evaluate other COVID-19 vaccines as they go through the federal process.

Copyright 2020, KLCC

Love Cross joined KLCC in 2017. She began her public radio career as a graduate student, serving as Morning Edition Host for Boise State Public Radio in the late 1990s. She earned her undergraduate degree in Rhetoric and Communication from University of California at Davis, and her Master’s Degree from Boise State University. In addition to her work in public radio, Love teaches college-level courses in Communication and Public Speaking.