OHA says weather delays won’t affect vaccination timeline

By Bradley W. Parks (OPB)
Feb. 19, 2021 6:40 p.m. Updated: Feb. 19, 2021 10:09 p.m.

The Oregon Health Authority said Friday that its COVID-19 vaccination timeline remains on track, despite delayed shipments due to extreme weather in Oregon and across the country.

Snow, ice and plunging temperatures rocked power grids, disrupted supply chains and tangled shipping nationwide this week. In Oregon that meant nearly 70,000 doses of the Moderna vaccine got stuck in Memphis, Tennessee. More than 10,000 vaccine appointments in Portland over the long weekend, for example, were canceled due to snow and ice.

Yet at a Friday press conference OHA Director Patrick Allen said the state remains on schedule. Vaccination appointments will open Monday to people 70 years and older, and to people 65 and older on March 1.


Allen also said Oregon’s total weekly allotment of vaccines from the federal government will increase by about 24,000 doses. The Biden administration this week announced expansions to the federal programs sending vaccines to retail pharmacies and federally qualified health centers.

“We’re getting more doses, but we still don’t have enough to vaccinate everyone on-demand,” Allen said.

About 5% of Oregonians to date are fully vaccinated and 12% have received at least one dose. It will likely take Oregon more than a year to reach herd immunity at its stated goal pace. That is when the novel coronavirus won’t spread as easily.


The OHA reported racial disparities in vaccine distribution. People who identify as Latino or Hispanic, for example, account for only 5% of total vaccinations, despite making up more than one-quarter of Oregon’s confirmed caseload. White people, on the other hand, have received nearly 75% of vaccinations; they make up less than half of Oregon’s cases.

Allen said the state hopes to reduce some of those disparities through the expansion of the vaccination programs at private pharmacies, federally qualified health centers and public health clinics. He added that gaps should lessen as vaccination opens to other groups in Phase 1b of the state’s inoculation plan — people with pre-existing conditions, agricultural workers, food processors and people in multi-generational housing.

Daily case counts, hospitalizations and test positivity rates have continued to decline in Oregon. However, Gov. Kate Brown urged Oregonians to continue to adhere to public health guidelines like social distancing, wearing face coverings and hand-washing especially as new coronavirus variants take hold in the state.

“We advise Oregonians to continue to follow safety measures and choose your activities wisely,” Brown said during the media briefing.

Oregon previously reported reinfections of several fully vaccinated people.

To date, Oregon has reported more than 152,000 COVID-19 cases. The disease has killed 2,149 people in Oregon.

Watch the media event below: