Update 12:15 pm:
During a press conference Friday, Oregon Health Authority (OHA) director Patrick Allen said Oregon is expected to reach the 70 percent vaccination benchmark by June 21. Vaccination rates dipped over Memorial Day weekend and OHA is waiting to collect more data before determining if the decrease was strictly due to the holiday, or if it is indicative of another decline in demand for the vaccine.
The racial and ethnic vaccine equity gap is slowly closing, according to OHA. Over the past week, vaccinations among Latinx, Black, Indigenous, and Pacific Islander Oregonians increased by about 5 percent.
Following the announcement of the Take Your Shot Oregon Campaign, which gives vaccinated Oregonians the chance to win $1 million, there has also been an increase in vaccination rates in rural Oregon communities, according to Governor Kate Brown.
Several health officials on the call said that reaching the 70 percent benchmark is not the end of the vaccination effort, but rather the beginning of a new phase.
“As we cross that 70 percent threshold, what we begin to do is move out of the crisis stage that we’ve been in statewide with the Coronavirus pandemic and we move back to the system that already existed for how to manage communicable disease across the state,” Allen said. Each county’s health department will take on more responsibility in coordinating vaccination efforts using systems already in place to address influenza outbreaks, according to Allen.
Brown also hinted at the possibility of more vaccine incentives being introduced in the upcoming weeks.
Almost all mask, physical distancing, and capacity limit requirements will be lifted when 70 percent of Oregonians 18 and older have received at least one dose of the vaccine, Governor Kate Brown announced Friday.
After reaching the 70 percent threshold, the state will no longer require vaccine verification for businesses that want to allow customers to go maskless, and remove the state’s “Risk Level framework” which has served as a guide for capacity requirements. Some restrictions will still apply, like requiring masks on public transit, as well as inside airports and health care settings. Brown will hold a press conference at 11 am today about the reopening plan. You can watch
it live below the recording below.
As of June 3, 66.2 percent of adult Oregonians have received their first dose. According to the Oregon Health Authority (OHA), the state only needs to vaccinate 127,308 more people to reach the 70 percent threshold. As of June 2, an average of 13,714 shots are being administered per day in Oregon. If the state continues with that average, Oregon could reach the 70 percent mark in 10 days—but vaccination rates have been steadily declining since April. Even if vaccination rates fall dramatically, OHA predicts the state will hit the 70 percent benchmark by the end of June.
“I want to be very clear that we are able to reopen like this because of the efficacy of the vaccines,” Brown said in the press release. The Governor also acknowledged that immunocompromised people and youth not yet eligible for the vaccine are still at risk of contracting COVID-19.
“This has really become a tale of two pandemics,” Brown said. “If you are vaccinated, then you’re safe, you can carry on safely without wearing a mask and social distancing. If you are not vaccinated, this virus still poses a very real threat.”
While the state is close to reaching the 70 percent vaccination benchmark, the vaccination rates have not been distributed equitably across race and ethnicity. Black, Latinx, and Indigenous communities still lag behind their white, Asian, and Pacific Islander counterparts in vaccination rates. About 35 percent of Oregon’s Black and Indigenous communities have received at least one dose of the vaccine in comparison to 48 percent of white Oregonians. Latinx Oregonians have the lowest vaccination rate at 33.8 percent.
Brown also confirmed that students will physically return to school full time, five days per week in the fall. Since young students still don’t have access to the vaccine, schools will continue to have some health and safety guidelines, including requiring masks for unvaccinated employees indoors. It’s unclear exactly what all of those guidelines will be.