Two packages arrived at Oregon addresses Monday at around 7 a.m.: One at Legacy’s Holladay Park site in Portland, and one at Legacy’s Meridian Park site in Tualatin. Together, the packages contain the state’s first 1,950 doses of COVID-19 vaccine.
“Starting this week, and each week following — as vaccines become more widely available — we will be gaining ground on this disease,” Oregon Gov. Kate Brown said in a press release announcing the shipments.
There’s a lot more coming. More doses of Pfizer and BioNTech’s vaccine are supposed to arrive Tuesday at several hospital systems and the rest of 35,100 promised doses to arrive over the course of the week.
PeaceHealth Oregon, which operates four medical centers in Lane County, will receive its first shipment of vaccine doses Tuesday.
“What it changes for me is less anxiety around our frontline staff who are in the COVID units and are exposed to patients who potentially have Covid,” said Dr. Jim McGovern, its vice president of medical affairs. “They will have a degree of protection they don’t have right now.”
Ultimately, after receiving shipments from other vaccine manufacturers, Oregon expects to give over 100,000 people their first doses of the COVID-19 vaccine before the year ends.
Medical workers and health care professionals will be among the first to receive the COVID-19 vaccine. Over 10,750 of Oregon’s first 35,000 doses will be distributed to long-term care facilities next week. Frequent outbreaks have plagued nursing homes, where at-risk residents have been isolated from friends and family for almost a year.
The rest of the vaccines will be distributed first to essential workers, communities that have been hard hit by COVID-19, and people who are at-risk for severe complications.
The vaccine’s arrival comes after an unprecedented push by scientists, governments and corporations around the world, approving a vaccine in under a year.
The fastest vaccine produced previously, for mumps, took four years. Research shows that the vaccines that have been approved are safe, and significantly more effective than the flu vaccine.
It will be a long time before Oregon can go back to life as normal, though. The best way to save lives is to stay at home.
”The vaccine is the light at the end of the tunnel, but we will be in this tunnel for several months,” said Oregon Health Authority Executive Director Patrick Allen. “We need to keep doing what we’ve been doing to help our friends, neighbors and ourselves stay safe.”
The shipments arrived at a time when hospital beds are filling up with COVID-19 patients. Health care workers have made up a large proportion of COVID-19 cases, and staff are already stretched thin without an outbreak. But soon, 100,000 of them could be on the path to immunity.