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Many at Oregon's nursing homes haven't gotten the new COVID booster

A close-up of a person holding a syringe.
Bradley W. Parks
Dr. Dat Tran with the Oregon Health Authority said nursing home residents are high risk, but they face barriers to vaccination.

In Oregon, very few nursing home residents have gotten this year’s COVID-19 booster, according to the Oregon Health Authority.

The updated vaccines are targeted at XBB 1.5, an omicron subvariant whose close relatives have been detected in recent Oregon samples.

However, the most current state data from October showed that at long-term care facilities, only 6% of staff and 11% of residents had gotten this booster.

"The residents who live there are at particularly high risk," said Dr. Dat Tran, the Medical Director for Healthcare Associated Infections at the OHA. "And the staff who work with them who care for them can transmit COVID-19, so it's important for them to be vaccinated also."

Tran said facilities face limited access to the booster, as they generally lack vaccine clinics on-site. Data from individual locations can be accessed through Oregon’s COVID dashboards.

“There's much more reliance on attending pharmacies and getting the vaccine on an individual level," said Tran. "During the pandemic, there was a much more coordinated effort to get vaccines to the facilities.”

Nationwide, the CDC reported a similarly low rate in early October, with 9% of nursing home residents found up-to-date on their COVID vaccinations.

However, that figure nearly doubled by around a month later. Data on that time period is not yet publicly available for Oregon.

Tran said the OHA's vaccination toolkits could help nursing homes increase access. In the meantime, he said the public should consider getting boosted before family gatherings this holiday season.

Less than 9% of all Oregon residents are up-to-date, according to the most recent data from the OHA.

Nathan Wilk joined the KLCC News Team in 2022. He is a graduate from the University of Oregon School of Journalism and Communication. Born in Portland, Wilk began working in radio at a young age, serving as a DJ and public affairs host across Oregon.
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