Covid vaccine eligibility is wide open in Oregon. Here’s what you need to know for Salem.

Tom McLeod, an EMT with Metro West Ambulance, administers a second dose of the Moderna vaccine at a drive-thru COVID-19 vaccination clinic at Centennial Park in Woodburn, Ore. on Thursday, April 1, 2021. (Amanda Loman/Salem Reporter)

Starting Monday, any Oregonian 16 or older is eligible to get a Covid vaccine. Appointments are likely to fill up quickly, but here’s what you need to know for booking your shot in the Salem area.

How do I schedule an appointment?

Salem Health remains the largest vaccine provider in the region, with multiple clinics operating. It uses an online system to schedule shots at the Salem fairgrounds, Western Oregon University and its Woodburn clinic. New appointments are posted Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays at noon, so check back if nothing is available when you first search. Salem Health generally uses the Pfizer vaccine at its fairgrounds clinic, and the Moderna vaccine at its other clinics.

Santiam Hospital in Stayton allows people eligible for a vaccine to pre-register and will contact you to schedule an appointment when they have doses available. Register online here.

Woodburn Ambulance hosts a weekly drive-through vaccination clinic on Thursdays, with pre-registration required. Appointment information is typically posted on the ambulance’s Facebook page the Monday before the clinic. This clinic uses the Moderna vaccine.

Local pharmacies receiving Covid vaccines include Walgreens, Rite Aid, Safeway, Bi-Mart, Costco, Fred Meyer and Walmart. Each pharmacy has its own online scheduling system.

There are several websites that collect information about local pharmacy vaccine appointments and update it regularly. Though not an official government website, Vaccine Spotter is a useful tool for finding pharmacy openings and lets you search by ZIP code.

The Marion County Health Department website has contact information for several clinics that receive doses of vaccine, and links to pharmacy scheduling websites. The county is also available to help people who can’t schedule online. Get help by calling 503-576-2828. Most doctor’s offices still do not have vaccine available.

The Confederated Tribes of the Grand Ronde is making some vaccines available to non-tribal members and allows people to register to receive information when vaccines may be available. More information is available on the tribe’s website.

Which vaccine will I get?

Most providers will let you know which vaccine you’re getting when you book your appointment.

Both the Pfizer and Moderna vaccine require two doses. Pfizer doses are spaced three weeks apart, and Moderna doses four weeks apart.

The Pfizer vaccine is the only vaccine currently approved for 16 and 17-year-olds.

The Johnson & Johnson vaccine remains on pause while federal agencies evaluate extremely rare reports of blood clots in several women who received the shot.

How do I get my second dose?

You will get your second dose at the same place you got your first dose. Some locations will schedule you for a second dose online at the same time as your first dose. Others will schedule you at the clinic once you’ve received your first shot.

Do I need to get vaccinated where I live or work?

Oregon has no requirement you get vaccinated in the city or county you live or work in, so west Salem residents are free to cross the river in search of vaccines. 

However, keep in mind you’ll need a second dose of vaccine at the same location, so consider your schedule and willingness to drive before road-tripping across Oregon in search of an appointment.

Do I need health insurance or identification?

Anyone can get a vaccine for free, regardless of whether or not they have health insurance.

Most vaccination sites ask for your insurance information so they can bill your insurer for the labor cost of administering the vaccine. If you have health insurance, that cost will be covered in full and you will not receive a bill. If you don’t have insurance, the federal government reimburses the provider for the cost.

Many vaccine clinics and mass vaccination sites do not require identification.

Vaccines are open to anyone regardless of immigration status or citizenship.

-Rachel Alexander