ENTERPRISE — Wallowa County residents who are 16 and 17 years old now have an option to get vaccinated.
Brooke Pace, communications director for Wallowa Memorial Hospital, said the hospital learned Thursday, April 15, that it will receive an allocation of 50 doses of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine. WMH has been actively working to fill slots to administer those doses on Wednesday, April 21.
These slots will only be available to the first 50 people who call,” Pace told the Chieftain Friday. “We are hopeful we’ll be able to receive (more) allocations of Pfizer, (but) we haven’t been promised anymore at this time.”
Wallowa County had not yet been able to administer the Pfizer vaccine because of ultra-cold storage requirements. Pace said the hospital has been able to work with Grande Ronde Hospital in La Grande, which has the ability to meet those requirements, and will transfer the vaccine from La Grande to Enterprise. It is only good for six hours once removed from its ultra-cold source.
The Pfizer vaccine has a couple main differences from the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine that 1,000s of Wallowa County residents have received. It has been approved for individuals as young as 16, while the Moderna vaccine was approved for those as young as 18. There also is a shorter wait time between first and second shots with the Pfizer vaccine — 21 days, as opposed to 28 days for Moderna.
Parents who wish to have their 16- or 17-year-old vaccinated can contact the hospital at 541-426-5437 to set up an appointment. The Wallowa County Health Care District website, wchcd.org, has a link to information about Pfizer’s emergency use authorization, as well as a parental consent form.
“Also on that page is a link to the Oregon Health Authority’s FAQ regarding vaccinations of 16 and 17 year olds,” Pace said. “It’s a really good resource.”
As of Monday afternoon, about half of the 50 slots for the Pfizer shot had been filled.
The hospital is also trying to fill spots for a clinic April 21 to use 200 first-doses of the Moderna vaccine it has on hand. As of Monday, all but about 45 of those spots were taken.
As of Friday, the hospital has administered 2,130 first doses of vaccine, and 1,631 people have been fully vaccinated. This includes 100 individuals who received the Johnson & Johnson vaccine through the hospital.
Use of that vaccine has been temporarily put on hold after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Food and Drug Administration called Tuesday, April 13, for a nationwide halt to administering it after six women were hospitalized for blood clots following its use. One of those women died, according to a report from the Oregon Capital Bureau.
Pace said a few individuals have called the hospital with questions, but said they have been referring those with the J&J vaccine to contact their primary care provider if they have concerns.
Liz Powers, chief medical officer for WMH, said Thursday afternoon that of the more than 500 Wallowa County residents who have received the J&J vaccine, none have had serious reactions.
She added that providers in the county have followed the guidance from the CDC and OHA and “are pausing vaccination of patients using the Johnson & Johnson COVID vaccine. This is out of an abundance of caution.”
Patients who wanted the Johnson & Johnson vaccine have been offered the Moderna vaccine, and some have taken that offer. Nobody, to Powers’ knowledge, who was set to get the vaccine is now declining.
I’m not aware of anyone completely backing out,” she said. “The patients we’re contacting are disappointed, some are ready to get the Moderna vaccine instead, and many are waiting to see what happens with the J&J vaccine.”
Winding Waters Medical Clinic, which had been administering the J&J vaccine, also has paused its use and is offering Moderna to anyone 18 and older, said WWMC Chief Executive Officer Nic Powers.