Syringes of the Pfizer vaccine during a COVID-19 vaccine clinic at the Oregon State Fairgrounds on Thursday, Jan. 28. (Amanda Loman/Salem Reporter)
Marion County will receive 3,225 fewer Covid vaccine doses next week as the Oregon Health Authority tries to speed vaccination efforts in the Portland Metro area.
Oregon Health Authority director Pat Allen announced the change during a media briefing Friday, saying the state will give fewer vaccines to counties that report they've finished vaccinating people currently eligible under the state's current schedule. Those groups include teachers and health care workers.
"If you're a county that believes you've vaccinated all of your eligible populations, we're not giving you additional doses to vaccinate your ineligible populations," Allen said during a media briefing Friday.
Thirteen Oregon counties, including Polk, will receive more doses next week to finish those vaccinations, according to documents from OHA. Eighteen, including Marion, will receive fewer.
Polk County is slated to receive 1,300 additional doses.
Allen said vaccination rates have varied by county because of differences in the distribution of eligible populations, willingness to get the vaccine and other factors.
"It's important that as the state we're addressing these local variations and moving through each phase together at a consistent pace," he said.
Vaccinations will open for Oregonians 80 and older on Feb. 8, then roll out gradually in February to those 65 and older.
Allen said Oregon expects to reach a "critical mass" of seniors in late April or early May and begin vaccinating the next eligible groups in May. That could include some "essential workers" like grocery store and food processing employees, as well as people under 65 with underlying health conditions. The state has not yet decided which of those groups will come first.
That process will go more quickly if Oregon receives more vaccine doses from the federal government, Allen said.