All Oregonians aged 16 and older will be able to receive a COVID-19 vaccine by mid-summer, according to the state's latest timeline.
"Today marks a major turning point in Oregon’s vaccination program and our state’s ongoing fight against the coronavirus," said Pat Allen, director of the Oregon Health Authority (OHA), at a Friday press conference.
Oregon's updated vaccine rollout timeframe follows news of an uptick in vaccine shipments from the federal government and vaccine manufacturers. According to OHA, this expected increase will allow the state to have enough vaccine supply to give at least 3.5 million people their first doses by June 1.
Included in this update are new, fast-approaching vaccine eligibility dates for defined categories of frontline workers and those with underlying health conditions.
OHA states that no later than March 29, vaccines will be available for Oregonians who are between the ages 45 and 64 who have underlying health conditions, along with people of any age who are migrant farm workers, seafood and agricultural workers, food processors, wildland firefighters, people living in low-income and congregate senior housing, those experiencing homelessness, or individuals displaced by wildfires.
No later than May 1, OHA will make vaccines available for Oregonians between the ages of 16 and 44 who have underlying health conditions, as well as people of all ages who live in multigenerational housing and other frontline workers as defined by the US Centers of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). According to the CDC, frontline workers include grocery and food service workers, retail workers, manufacturing workers, U.S. Postal Service employees, baker employees, transit workers, taxi drivers, local and state government workers, and journalists.
By June 1, all Oregonians between 45 and 64 will be eligible to receive a vaccine, and by July 1, everyone 16 and older will become eligible.
This news comes as Oregonians who currently qualify to receive the vaccine are still struggling to schedule appointments to receive the shot. According to Allen, only 31 percent of all currently eligible seniors (meaning those 70 and older) have received their first COVID dose. This is largely due to the state's labyrinthine and overloaded online registration system, which is the only way those eligible can land an appointment.
Allen said the system will change next week, hopefully for the better. Instead of forcing those eligible to wait hours trying to register online, OHA will simply ask eligible Oregonians to input their email address online, and wait be contacted by a vaccination provider to schedule the appointment.
"We hope this change will make the experience better," Allen said.