OREGON -- Health care workers and those at long-term care facilities are first in line for COVID-19 vaccination, and many are wondering who’s next in Oregon?
That decision is up to state health officials.
The Oregon Health Authority said who they feel should be next in line: people over the age of 65, those with underlying health conditions and critical workers. This could include grocery store workers, emergency responders, teachers and others considered to be working on the front lines.
KEZI 9 News talked to Dan Clay, president of UFCW Local 55, which has nearly 30,000 members across Oregon and Southwest Washington. He represents workers within various industries, including grocery and retail.
“The vaccine is going to be a huge help to my folks who are super stressed out about having to come to face to face with a virus,” Clay said. “And I'm thrilled that essential employees, not just health care workers, but other people who have been super essential about keeping society going are going to have an opportunity to get the vaccine sooner rather than later.”
He said many of his members have felt unprotected throughout their work day as they wear a mask but not everyone complies with store rules.
“All of these essential employees deserve to be taken care of and deserve to be recognized for the risk they're taking for me and for you so that we can go to the store and get food,” Clay said. “I think society breaks down pretty quick once people can no longer get food. That really shows the value of what essential employees in retail are doing for us as a community.”
He hopes additional safety measures will be created to keep essential workers safe and also believes hazard pay should have continued to be given out.
KEZI also talked to Sabrina Gordon, president of the Eugene Education Association.
“We need to be able to devote that energy and time into positive thinking about you know how to best serve our students and that's what teachers really want right now,” Gordon said. “Knowing that this vaccine is coming just puts us on the path toward that and we're excited for that.”
She described the approach of the vaccine as a “light at the end of the tunnel” but shared that not every educator will feel safe enough open school doors back up just yet.
“We know that the community and teachers and school systems all want our students back in school as soon as we can do so safely,” Gordon said. “The news that there's this vaccine on the horizon, and it's headed our way gets us a step closer to that for sure.”
The general public will have to wait until spring of 2021 to receive a COVID-19 vaccine.
The Oregon Health Authority announced Monday evening that so far 4,475 Oregonians have been vaccinated in the first week of COVID-19 immunizations.
OHA also announced Walgreens, CVS and Consonus Pharmacy will be giving out COVID-19 vaccines to long-term care residents and staff this week in Oregon.