By Joanne Rideout.
COVID-19 vaccination efforts continue in Clatsop County, as the health department pushes toward herd immunity.
Clatsop County Vaccine Task Force Incident Commander Chris Laman said that last week the county administered close to 3,000 doses of the Moderna vaccine, including almost 1,000 second doses.
“Twelve thousand five hundred people have now been fully vaccinated in the county. And in total we’ve given jut over 28,000 shots.”
Vaccines are now open to people ages 18 and up for the Moderna and Johnson & Johnson vaccines, and 16-17 for the Pfizer vaccine. To make it easier for people to get shots, the county has shifted its event protocol to allow some walk-ins, so people can get a shot without an appointment. They can also still make an appointment for a shot at a specific time.
Clatsop County is primarily administering the Moderna vaccine at county vaccination events. However, they now also have the Pfizer vaccine in limited quantities for 16 and 17 year olds. While the county is generally limiting Pfizer doses to just that age group, they will allow close family members of Pfizer-eligible young people to also get that vaccine, so families can stay on the same dose schedule.
Last week, the county held a successful vaccine event for the unsheltered, a joint effort with Clatsop Community Action and Homeless Connect. The event offered first shots along with showers, haircuts, food, and personal items like socks. And the Astoria Warming Center was open for anyone who had a temporary reaction to the shot and needed a place to rest. About 25 people were vaccinated.
Starting this month, more opportunities to get vaccinated outside of county events will become available.
This week the two hospitals in the county, Columbia Memorial in Astoria and Providence Seaside, will begin offering vaccines. Both will offer the Johnson & Johnson vaccine by appointment.
Next week, two local doctors offices, Dr. Angela Nairn and Dr. Paul Voeller, will start offering vaccines to their patients, and the week after that, eight more local clinics will begin receiving shipments of the vaccine.
Laman said the wider availability through different venues may encourage more people to get vaccinated.
“We’re hoping as we’ve gotten into a more hesitant group, people who are just kind of waiting or on the fence, that being able to get it through their doctor’s office and ask their doctor questions, will help increase the number of vaccines we’re able to administer.”
This week, the county will hold two, three-hour mass vaccination clinics on Tuesday and Thursday. Laman said the county would likely end its mass events by the end of May. After that, people can make an appointment with a local provider for a shot, much like they do with flu shots and other vaccines.
For more info on vaccine events, check the county’s website under COVID-19 Vaccine Survey, where there’s a calendar of vaccine events with complete information, and people can now self-schedule an appointment. For questions, call the County Health Department at 503-325-8500.
Clatsop County is currently about 32 percent vaccinated against COVID-19. Officials say 70 percent is needed for herd immunity.