20 Oregon counties move from vaccination group six to seven, now all residents eligible

A truck with the labeling of Jim’s Fruit Stand in front of an open lot. As of March 29th, everyone in Phase 1B Group 6 of Oregon’s vaccination plan is eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccination. The list of people eligible for the vaccine has now grown to include migrant and seasonal farm workers.

Adam Figgins, News Contributor

By April 19, the vaccine will be made available to all individuals 16 or older, previously, all residents in Benton County group seven are eligible for the vaccine.

Group seven is a part of phase 1B of the Oregon Vaccination plan and is made up of frontline workers, individuals living in multigenerational households and adults 16-44 with one underlying health condition.

The new date of eligibility occurred after Gov. Kate Brown made an announcement that all Oregonians would become eligible for the vaccine which came after president Joe Biden moved up his timeline.

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As of March 31, 20 counties were offering the vaccine to group seven, which was ahead of schedule.

Group seven was supposed to be eligible for vaccination as of Apr. 5, but Benton County is now one of the 20 counties to move forward ahead of schedule. All Americans will be eligible for vaccination as of May 1 according to the Biden administration.

“Moving up vaccination in these counties will enable us to vaccinate our frontline workers more quickly while enabling counties with adequate supply to fully utilize their allotment of COVID-19 vaccine,” said Oregon Health Authority Director Patrick Allen.

Although there is concern around the recent calls by the Oregon Health Authority to halt the use of the Johnson and Johnson vaccine. This comes after six reported cases of rare blood clots occuring in women between the ages of 18 to 48.

Johnson and Johnson is a single dose vaccine shot that over 81,000 Oregonians have received. 

This specifically can cause issues with harder to reach communities such as rural Oregonians, agricultural workers, and homeless people. Some counties such as Morrow county have already canceled mobile clinics due to the announcement. 

Around 2.4 million vaccines have been administered in the state of Oregon, with 1.5 million people having one or two doses of vaccine, with almost 1 million Oregonians fully vaccinated.

However, only about 58% of Oregonians aged 65 and older have received the vaccine. The OHA had previously predicted 80% of individuals 65 and older would be vaccinated by March 31.

Recent data shows 68% of Benton County seniors have been vaccinated and Linn County has only vaccinated 50%.

As more individuals become vaccinated, schools have received different guidance for social distancing. 

“The Oregon Department of Education and the OHA are reviewing the new guidance including the recommendation that 3 feet of spacing is sufficient when community transmission of COVID-19 is low,” said Governor Kate Brown in a press release on March 19. Schools in the Corvallis School District will open starting April 12 through 19 and have decided on preliminary social distancing measures in accordance with OHA guidance. 

Governor Brown addressed her priority to center equity in all of Oregon’s vaccine efforts. 

“Communities of color are more likely to have several of these health conditions such as diabetes or sickle cell disease,” said Governor Brown.

In Benton County, 41,915 residents have received at least one dose of the vaccine and 26,482 people are vaccinated. As of April 15, 28% of people in Benton county are fully vaccinated and 44% of people over 16 have received one dose.

Our strength comes from our partnerships with Samaritan Health Services, Oregon State University, and countless community based organizations and healthcare providers,” said Alyssa Rash, public information officer for Benton County. “Through these partnerships we are able to offer a multi-pronged approach to vaccinate the highest-need individuals first before moving into other prioritization groups.” 

Kimberly Lane, a third year Oregon State University student studying dietetics, works for OSU TRACE and just received her second dose of the vaccine recently. Lane qualified for vaccination because she is a healthcare worker.

“A lot of my friends haven’t got vaccinated yet and I know they are really excited to get vaccinated and the more people that are vaccinated the better,” said Lane. “[The vaccination clinic at Reser] was pretty well run, everything was on a QR code system, you’d come up and they scan your code and send you to a series of people who were all trained and knew what they were doing.”