PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — State officials announced Wednesday that an additional 17,000 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine will be allocated to Oregon’s Portland metro region.
The announcement was made a day after Multnomah, Clackamas and Washington health officials officials said that “tens of thousands” of 1A health care workers in the area have not been vaccinated and likely will not be for weeks, as there are not enough doses to go around for the increasing amount of people eligible for shots.
“Any additional vaccine is welcome news,” said Dr. Jennifer Vines, the Multnomah County health officer. “And we are ready to keep working with our health system partners over the next year until everyone who wants a vaccine has the chance to get one.”
Julie Sullivan-Springhetti, the communications director of Multnomah County, said that Gov. Kate Brown told Tri-County health officials that they will receive an additional 17,000 doses — on top of the 15,000 area health officials were expecting — during the week of Feb. 1.
Out of the 32,000 doses, 17,000 are earmarked by the state to be administered to 1A health care workers and 15,000 for educators.
Health officials said Tuesday said that additional doses would help the situation in the Tri-County area, which is home to Oregon’s three most populous counties and many of the state’s large hospitals.
On Tuesday Tri-County health leaders announced that the regional online COVID-19 Phase 1A vaccination sign-up survey, that launched Jan. 12, is closed because of the limited vaccine supply.
The survey was intended to link healthcare providers and others in Phase 1A to appointment slots with the health systems as vaccines became available.
Health officials said that while 60,000 eligible people applied for vaccines through the survey, only 11,000 were sent invitations to be vaccinated.
While thousands of eligible people are still waiting for their shots, this week another group became eligible for the vaccine too — teachers.
In addition, beginning the week of Feb. 7, seniors 80 and older will be eligible. In the weeks that follow, Oregon seniors in younger age groups will become eligible.
“There really is no easy way to say this, right now we are in a situation in the metro area where we have more people eligible for the vaccine than we actually have vaccine in the metro area,” said Jessica Guernsey, the Multnomah County public health director. “This is an incredibly frustrating situation.”
The Oregon Health Authority reported 731 new confirmed and presumptive COVID-19 cases Wednesday, bringing the state total to 140,063. The state’s death toll 1,924.
The health authority’s weekly report, also released Wednesday, showed sharp declines in daily cases, hospitalizations and deaths over the previous week.
During the week of Jan. 24, weekly cases decreased by 48%. In addition, during that week, coronavirus related hospitalizations decreased by 33%.
OHA reported 4,119 new daily cases during the week of Monday, Jan. 18 through Sunday, Jan. 24, a 48% decrease from the previous week.
Cline is a corps member for The Associated Press/Report for America Statehouse News Initiative. Report for America is a nonprofit national service program that places journalists in local newsrooms to report on undercovered issues.