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Oregon moves up COVID-19 vaccination timeline, prepares to vaccinate seniors
By Erin Ross (OPB)
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Oregon officials, increasingly confident about COVID-19 vaccine supply, are speeding up their vaccination timeline. Officials say the increased supply will help them give a first dose to a majority of Oregon’s seniors by early April. That means the state can move on to other groups almost a month earlier than previously expected.

“That’s good news for seniors. It’s also good news for frontline workers, people with underlying health conditions, and others left in line,” said Oregon Health Authority Director Patrick Allen. He estimated that by July Oregon could be ready to vaccinate people beyond what the state is calling “1b” in its phased approach to inoculations.

It’s welcome news, as Oregon prepares to open vaccinations to almost 800,000 seniors on Feb. 8, doubling the number of people eligible. The state also announced a series of new online tools to help connect eligible people with vaccines. Despite a comparatively smooth rollout, there have been speed bumps and pinch points, and many health-care workers in the state’s most populous counties are still waiting their turn. When access is expanded to all people older than 65, state officials anticipate those problems will only increase.

“If you watched the senior category roll out everywhere else in the country, it was really chaotic. And it’s gonna be chaotic here too,” Allen said. At least at first, there won’t be enough vaccines or appointments to go around. He said he hopes that opening up vaccinations to seniors in phases will help manage the rush.

To help handle the flood of eager appointment-seekers, Oregon Gov. Kate Brown plans to mobilize the National Guard to staff Oregon’s COVID-19 helpline, accessed by calling 211.

Gov Kate Brown announced the latest on the state’s COVID-19 response Friday morning. Watch her press conference: