CORVALLIS, Ore. – Experts from Oregon State University held a media panel Tuesday where some questioned the accelerated timeline of vaccinations recently announced by Gov. Kate Brown.
Courtney Campbell, who specializes in medical ethics and equity in distribution at OSU, questioned why the state would open up eligibility to everyone on May 1 when there are still constraints on supply.
“That strikes me as a very inefficient way to do your vaccine allocation,” Campbell said. “If we had enough vaccines for everyone, that would be a different thing. But we don't.”
Joe Agor, who specializes in systems optimization for vaccine distribution efforts, added that it’s not simply supply constraints that could slow down vaccinations. Agor said healthcare workers and pharmacists are becoming overwhelmed.
“I can have millions or trillions of pounds of supplies. But if I don't have the people to distribute it, then really it's just going to create longer lines, waits and inefficiencies that weren't originally planned to be there,” Agor said.
There are also concerns around equity and access. Experts said the state is not doing a good enough job of getting the vaccine to underserved communities, including Latinx populations. About 5% of the Latinx population has been vaccinated, despite accounting for more than 13% of the population in Oregon.
Experts also noted Oregon is doing worse than other states at vaccinating those 65 and older, with just 32% of seniors having been fully vaccinated compared to about 46% nationwide.