SALEM, OR (KPTV) – Gov. Kate Brown announced Tuesday Oregon will expand its COVID-19 vaccination plan to include people 65 and older.
The governor’s office said vaccinations of Oregon seniors as well as child care providers, early learning, K-12 educators and staff would begin Jan. 23. That's the date when additional shipments are expected to arrive from the federal government.
“While this is an unexpected change in course from the federal government, receiving more vaccines is welcome news for states — and Oregon is ready to devote all resources necessary to ramp up distribution with our healthcare partners,” Brown said.
Governor Brown's office estimates there are more than 700,000 Oregonians over 65 years old and more than 100,000 educators, staff, early learning and childcare workers who need to be vaccinated.
Fifth grade Peninsula Elementary School teacher, Ned Harkness, said he's cautiously optimistic.
"I knew that it was really important to prioritize people who have existing conditions, people who are elderly. There are a lot of people who really need this vaccine and I’m glad I’m gonna get it but I’m still worried about those other folks," Harkness said. "I also know there are a lot of things that have gotten in the way of this rolling out smoothly. So, I’m excited, but I’m also, I want to see it in action."
Vicki Leaderbrand is 66, almost 67, said she can breathe a sigh of relief tonight after learning she's now able to get a Covid-19 vaccine - especially considering she has several risk factors.
“Actually quite excited and relieved," Leaderbrand.
Brown said she will release detailed plans on Friday for “rapid deployment of vaccines to health care providers and mass vaccination sites across Oregon.”
The governor asked for patience from those who became newly eligible to be patient.
“Please, do not call your doctor’s office or health care provider with questions about when you can be vaccinated. Today’s news arrived with no advance notice from the federal government. Oregon health care providers are working as fast as humanly possible to shift their vaccine distribution plans to meet this sudden change in national guidance.”
Brown also said she is determined to ensure that communities that have been disproportionately impacted by COVID-19, such as Oregon’s Black, Indigenous, tribal, Latino, Latina, and Latinx, Pacific Islander, and communities of color, have access to the vaccine.
Also on Tuesday, Brown updated the risk levels for Oregon counties. Four counties were moved up to extreme risk, with 26 total under extreme risk beginning Jan. 15.