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On Monday, Feb. 22, 2021, a Safeway pharmacist administers the first shot of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine to a person referred to Safeway by Wallowa Memorial Hospital. Safeway recently began to receive the vaccine because of the Federal Retail Pharmacy Program and has coordinated with the hospital to vaccinate some of the individuals on the WMH waitlist.

ENTERPRISE — Wallowa County residents have another outlet where they will be able to get COVID-19 vaccinations as they are distributed.

Safeway in Enterprise, as well as many other retail pharmacies, have begun receiving doses of the COVID-19 vaccine through the Federal Retail Pharmacy Program.

According to the Oregon Health Authority website, “The partnership is a collaboration between the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), states and territories, and 21 national pharmacy partners and independent pharmacy networks. Shipments arrived on Feb. 10 at 127 retail pharmacies in Oregon.”

Enterprise’s Safeway store received 100 doses two weeks ago, and was slated to receive another 100 last week before nationwide inclement weather issues delayed the shipment. More doses are expected to arrive this week.

“All of our Safeway/Albertson’s pharmacies except for a couple are part of the federal partnership that started (two weeks ago) with the shipment from the federal government to the pharmacies,” said Jill McGinnis, director of communication and public affairs for Safeway.

McGinnis said the Safeway pharmacy staff worked with Wallowa Memorial Hospital to coordinate distribution of the vaccine to those individuals on the local waitlist. Currently, senior citizens are on the list to get a shot in Wallowa County.

“We talked to the hospital — both Brooke Pace and Ruthie Mann — and are cooperating with them to get as many people covered as possible,” said Nancy Stangel, pharmacy manager at Enterprise’s Safeway. “They have a long list. We’re trying to work together to get people covered as quickly as possible.”

Stangel said the Safeway pharmacy having the availability to vaccinate gives residents another option of where they can get inoculated.

“In talking with the hospital they have been doing an awesome job to help vaccinate our community and county, but there are always a few people who can’t make it,” on the hospital vaccination clinic days, Stangel said. Those vaccination clinics have been on Tuesdays and Fridays when the vaccine is available.

“We were able to call 50 people at the top of our waitlist and instruct them to call Safeway,” Brooke Pace, communications director at WMH, said of how the collaboration worked from the hospital’s end.

Having an additional location that can immunize will help speed up the process of getting shots to those who want them, Pace said.

“This is a great way for us to work through the list at a faster pace, especially if we get to a situation where both Safeway and the hospital are receiving shipments,” she said. “We’re hoping that we will continue to work in partnership with Safeway to work (through) the waitlist that we have.”

Stangel praised the efforts put forth by the hospital staff, and said the staff has played a key role in helping coordinate people for immunization at Safeway.

“They’ve been doing a great job. They have a great team set up,” she said. “I appreciate all they have been doing, and appreciate them working with us to try and help out.”

As of Monday afternoon, Feb. 22, there have been 1,183 first doses administered in the county, and 670 individuals have received both doses of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine. There are 594 people on the county waitlist.

Overall, there have been 142 cases of COVID-19 in the county since the start of the pandemic last year, including 40 this month.

To signup online for a vaccine through Safeway (when it’s available) visit www.safeway.com/covid-19, or call WMH at 541-426-5437, if you’re 65 or older, to be added to the waitlist.

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