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New data from OHA shows varying vaccination rates among certain health care professions

Newly released data from Oregon Health Authority suggests varying vaccination rates among licensed health professionals across the state.

Posted: Jul 16, 2021 5:59 PM
Updated: Jul 19, 2021 12:05 PM

LANE COUNTY, Ore.--- According to newly released data from the Oregon Health Authority, 70% of Oregon's licensed health care workers have received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine but vaccination rates vary widely across different medical professions.

In Oregon, 94% of dentists have at least one shot, which is the highest rate of any medical license type. Medical doctors are also among the most vaccinated health care workers, with 87% of the state's nearly 12,000 licensed doctors having received a shot.

But some of the lowest rates are among chiropractors at 50%, certified nurses at 57% and emergency medical technicians at 59%.

Oregon Health Authority's chief medical officer, Dr. Dana Hargunani, said they want all health care workers to get the vaccine.

"I think overall we see optimism in some of the very high vaccination rates among some of our health care workers," Hargunani said. "We will continue to keep working to make sure all barriers are reduced."

Another concern among local health officials is outbreaks in assisted living facilities, and whether caregivers are vaccinated.

Lane County Public Health reported an outbreak at the Spruce Point Assisted Living and Memory Care in Florence, where 19 residents and six staff members were infected with COVID-19. A staff member is suspected to have caused the outbreak.

State representative Rob Nosse said he believes assisted care facilities cannot mandate vaccines based on Oregon law.

According to the Oregon Bureau of Labor and Industries, most workplaces can mandate the COVID-19 vaccine but those exempt include people licensed or certified to provide health care, employees of a health care facility and licensed health care providers.

Oregon Association of Hospitals and Health Systems believes this law should change. While they don't believe in a statewide vaccine mandate for health care workers, they believe hospitals should have the choice on what they see is best.

"If the state would change this law or create a new rule, we know that each community is different and each hospital is different," OAHHS president Becky Holtberg said. "It is important that the hospital and the local community have the ability to make that decision."

Lane County Public Health spokesperson Jason Davis said the county doesn't break down vaccination rates by profession, but believes the state discrepancy comes from self-reporting and the opposing views on medicine.

"Specifically when it comes to chiropractors, they are more aligned with alternative interventions," Davis said. "I remember driving past Eugene once and seeing a chiropractor's office that said flu adjustments."

KEZI 9 News reached out to Oregon Chiropractic Association but president Eric Hubbs said he is unsure why vaccination rates are low among Oregon chiropractors.

The city of Eugene said their most recent data suggests that nearly 90% of the Eugene Springfield Fire department were fully vaccinated as of June.

PeaceHealth hospitals reported that that overall employee vaccination rate at the Eugene/Springfield hospitals are 79% vaccinated and the rate for Florence hospitals and clinics is 76%.

"PeaceHealth leadership and physicians have been very public in supporting vaccination of our caregivers and community members. With this support, a substantial majority of our caregivers have chosen to be vaccinated," said PeaceHealth chief physician executive Doug Koekkoek.

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