ROSEBURG, Ore.— It’s been nearly a week since the first doses of the COVID-19 vaccine arrived in Douglas County and public health officials said they’re already making their way down their priority list.
The Roseburg VA started giving out doses of the Moderna vaccine Wednesday. Officials said they are one of 113 medical facilities across the country to receive the limited supply of the recently approved vaccine.
Mercy Medical Center began administrating doses of the Pfizer vaccine Friday. In their first shipment, hospital officials said they received 975 doses. They said they’ve hosted three clinics so far and have vaccinated 173 employees out of nearly 1,400. Public health officer Bob Dannenhoffer said the healthcare workers were first on the list to get vaccinated.
“Hospital workers are a high risk,” he said. “Those people work in the ICU, they work in the emergency department, they are really getting a lot of exposure.”
Dannenhoffer said getting the elderly vaccinated is the next priority, especially those in assisted living facilities. Patty Koch, the executive director of Riverview Terrace Retirement Living said they are already hard at work preparing for the vaccine. She said she doesn’t know when their first shipment is coming or how many doses will follow, but she said she was told it was coming soon.
“It will provide that level of safety to our residents,” she said. “We’re so excited to be able to protect them from the virus.”
Dannenhoffer said the goal is to get all healthcare workers and elderly people in assisted care facilities vaccinated by the end of January. He said everyone else will follow in groups. He said 60-70 percent of the population in each county needs to be vaccinated in order to get back to normal. In Douglas County, that’s about 80,000 people out of 110,000.
“All the vaccines require two doses, so 160,000 doses,” he said.
Dannenhoffer said they hope to get everyone vaccinated by the summer. However, he said that’s not an excuse for people to relax on mask-wearing, social distancing, and staying away from large gatherings.
“There is light at the end of the tunnel, but that’s why this is the time to redouble our efforts,” he said.