Oregon turned a corner in its efforts to vaccinate residents against the coronavirus Friday, setting a schedule for the eligibility for every adult in the state to receive a shot.
The announcement sets an ambitious timeline for vastly expanding the number of Oregonians who can get in line for a COVID-19 vaccine, with select populations becoming eligible by the end of March and the general public to become eligible by late July.
“Yes, you’re hearing me correctly,” said Oregon Governor Kate Brown at a news conference Friday. “Come summer, provided supplies from the federal government continue as planned, any Oregonian who wants the vaccine will be eligible to receive it.”
Under the plan, on March 29 the state will open eligibility to the next slate of individuals in group 1B. Officials said that includes:
• Adults 45-64, with 1+ CDC-defined underlying health conditions with increased risk. (Conditions include cancer, chronic kidney disease, COPD, Down’s syndrome, heart conditions, immunocompromised state, obesity defined by a BMI of 30 or above, pregnancy, sickle-cell disease and Type II diabetes.)
• A portion of frontline workers who are highly vulnerable, including migrant and seasonal farm workers; seafood, agricultural and food processing workers; and woodland firefighters.
• Families displaced by Sept. 2020 forest fires.
• People living in low-income and congregate senior housing.
• Individuals experiencing homelessness.
No later than May 1, the state will open eligibility to:
• Adults 16-45 with 1+ CDC defined underlying health conditions with increased risk.
• Other CDC-defined frontline workers, which the CDC defines as “necessary for the functioning of society,” and who are at higher risk for contracting the virus because they can’t work from home or often come in contact with others at work. Some examples include grocery store workers, members of the media, public transit operators and the U.S. Postal Service.
• People who live in multi-generational households.
No later than June 1, the state will open eligibility to the general population 45 or older, and no later than July 1, the state will open eligibility to anyone 16 and older.
A lengthy list of the characteristics and factors which define the state’s eligibility groups is available on the state’s vaccination website at covidvaccine.oregon.gov/
“For the first time since the pandemic started, we can provide a timeline that will tell every adult Oregonian a date before which he or she will be eligible to get vaccinated,” said Oregon Health Authority Director Patrick Allen Friday. “This will bring into clearer view a time when we will be freed from the grip of the pandemic, and we can see our loved ones, celebrate holidays and return to some of our normal life again.”
Friday’s announcement came on the heels of a chaotic week for scheduling vaccine appointments, particularly in the state’s high-population areas, which has pushed state officials to change how appointments are scheduled at major metro sites.
But according to Allen, the state is already ahead of its own timeline, giving health officials confidence in the ambitious next phases.
“We’re speeding up our timelines, not backing off,” Allen said.
So far, just over 7% of Oregonians have been fully vaccinated against the virus, with about twice that having received at least a first dose.
That includes about 46% of those over 80, Allen said, and about a quarter of those over 65 (the age group which will become fully eligible for doses starting March 1). Allen projects about three quarters of the state’s seniors will be vaccinated by March 29, weeks ahead of the state’s previous timeline.