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Samaritan & Partners Expand COVID-19 Vaccinations to Seniors

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As excitement and anticipation build around the COVID-19 vaccines, Samaritan and its county public health partners are working to offer vaccinations to as many people as possible under Oregon Health Authority distribution guidelines.

As of Feb. 7, nearly 27,600 individuals across Benton, Lincoln and Linn counties have been vaccinated with nearly 8,400 having received both doses. Thousands more will join this group as Samaritan and the three counties offer vaccinations to senior citizens 80 and older, as allowed under the Oregon Health Authority’s direction.

Supplies of the vaccines are limited nationwide. The Oregon Health Authority believes it will take until April to vaccinate all eligible seniors.

Seniors 80 and older became eligible this week. That group will expand to 75 and older on Feb. 15, then 70 and 65 and older in subsequent weeks.

“Statistically speaking, we know that senior citizens have a high likelihood of getting seriously ill and dying from COVID-19,” said Adam Brady, MD, infectious disease specialist and chair of the Samaritan Coronavirus Task Force. “We are very excited that the Oregon Health Authority has now expanded eligibility criteria to include seniors. We all have seniors in our lives who we want to see protected from this disease, so this is a high priority for us.”

Answers to Questions About the Vaccines

Why can’t I get the vaccine at my primary care provider’s office as soon as I am eligible?

Currently, coronavirus vaccines are not available in single-dose packaging, only in multi-dose bottles. This means mass vaccination clinics are the best method for distributing the vaccines, ensuring every dose is used and none are wasted.

There are very limited windows of time for when these vaccines can be used once thawed and opened, requiring swift and efficient distribution in group settings, rather than vaccination during individual appointments with primary care providers.

“We are excited that so many of our patients are interested in getting vaccinated for COVID-19 as soon as possible,” Dr. Brady said. “We’re proud to work with local county health departments and the State of Oregon to administer vaccinations in a fair, equitable and efficient way, and we are looking forward to the day when the vaccines are made available to all patients.”

Is Samaritan keeping a list of people who want to be vaccinated?

Samaritan is not keeping a list of patients for vaccination appointments, and will communicate with patients and the community when the vaccine is more widely available.

Up-to-date information and links to authoritative sources of vaccine information, including the Oregon Health Authority and local county public health departments, are available at samhealth.org/COVIDVaccine.

How will Samaritan keep patients informed about getting the vaccines?

Samaritan will reach out to patients and the community in a variety of ways when the vaccines become more widely available, including press releases to local media, social media posts, newsletter articles such as this one and more.

At this time, we are working with our local county public health departments, under the guidance of the Oregon Health Authority, to help administer vaccines to eligible groups in mass vaccination events. To stay informed about mass vaccination events, visit your county public health department vaccine-specific webpages, which are linked below. Also consider following your local health department’s social media accounts, if possible.

Benton County Public Health or call 541-766-6120.

Lincoln County Public Healthor call 541-265-0621.

Linn County Public Health or call 800-304-7468.

Find the most current COVID-19 vaccine information at samhealth.org/COVIDVaccine.