Salem Health began a Covid vaccine clinic at the state fairgrounds on Jan. 7 (Rachel Alexander/Salem Reporter)
Despite scarce Covid vaccine supplies in Oregon and around the U.S., Salem Health and the Oregon Health Authority say they’ll have enough doses to vaccinate the thousands of people due for their second shots in Salem this week.
But it will be up to the roughly 8,300 who need another vaccine to schedule an appointment or show up at the state fairgrounds.
Salem Health opened its mass vaccination clinic at the state fairgrounds on Jan. 7, delivering thousands of doses of the Pfizer Covid vaccine in the first four days of operation.
To be fully effective, that vaccine requires a second dose given about 21 days after the first, meaning the earliest recipients are due for a booster this week.
The clinic has been closed since Friday after running out of vaccines, but is expected to reopen Wednesday, Jan. 27 after receiving more.
When it does, there will be a separate line and process for people receiving second doses, Salem Health spokeswoman Lisa Wood said. The hospital is encouraging people to schedule an appointment for a second dose in advance on MyChart, its online health records system, though those who don’t have a MyChart account can show up when the clinic is open.
People receiving a second dose should bring their vaccination card, Wood said.
When the vaccination clinic opened, it was restricted to Marion County residents eligible for a vaccine under Oregon’s rules for prioritizing doses. The first people eligible were health care workers, including caregivers, as well as first responders, correctional employees and a handful of other occupations considered highest risk for contracting or spreading Covid.
But confusion over the guidelines, rumors vaccines were going to waste and inconsistent screening procedures led to some in Salem getting vaccinated despite not being eligible, particularly during the early days of the clinic.
That won’t matter for second doses, Wood said. Anyone who got a first dose at the fairgrounds should return three weeks later for a second one “regardless of any eligibility factors at the time of their first dose,” Wood said in an email. To date, more than 23,800 people have been vaccinated at the fairgrounds, she said.
The Oregon Health Authority allocates second doses to hospitals and other providers based on how many first doses they gave out, spokesman Jonathan Modie said. Those are distinct from allocations for first doses, which are based on county population and the ability to vaccinate people in a timely fashion.
Modie said the vaccine will still be effective if people can’t get a second dose right when it’s due. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have said the booster dose can be scheduled up to six weeks after the first, Modie said.
Salem Health has also been vaccinating Polk County residents, first at West Valley Hospital, and now at Western Oregon University. But that clinic has used the Covid vaccine made by Moderna, which has two doses spaced 28 days apart, so early recipients aren’t yet due for a booster shot.
Oregon has now added teachers, school workers and preschool and child care employees to the list of those eligible to receive a vaccine. Marion County began those shots last week.
Updated operating hours for the vaccine clinic and instructions for scheduling an appointment are available on the Salem Health website.
Contact reporter Rachel Alexander: [email protected] or 503-575-1241.
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