Whether at the state or national level, there has been ample criticism levied about the rollout of the two COVID-19 vaccines in the U.S.
But the efforts of heath care workers locally has been anything but substandard — superb, in fact, is a much better word to describe it.
Wallowa Memorial Hospital has spearheaded the rollout, including coordinating hundreds of appointments, fielding more than 1,100 calls and leading vaccinations. Other facilities have aided in vaccine administration.
In barely a month, about 10% of Wallowa County has received at least one dose of the vaccine, and 32 individuals are fully immunized. Those are rates well ahead of where Oregon is currently — roughly 7% of the state has received a dose of the vaccine.
That’s a solid start, especially given the sporadic nature that the county gets its shipment of the vaccine — and often on short notice. Wallowa Memorial Hospital had no notice when its first batch arrived late last month, yet instantly sprung into action, and the next day was getting those shots into the arms of Phase 1A recipients.
The ability to quickly get a game plan together, and then the flexibility to alter it — both at almost a moment’s notice — was perhaps best on display two weeks ago. On Jan. 12, the county (and state) received unexpected news of getting extra doses of the vaccine to give to senior citizens. Within barely 12 hours, those newly eligible at the local level were able to call in to schedule a vaccination appointment.
And when those plans changed on a dime just three days later and the expected extra doses weren’t en route, the county didn’t bat an eye, but instead made the necessary alterations to keep its vaccination plan in line with the state.
What’s more, the county is well ahead of the state. As of Monday, Jan. 25, not only is Phase 1A basically through the first round of shots, but educators are almost done with their first shots, as are seniors 80 and above. Educators weren’t made eligible statewide until Monday, and 80 and older aren’t slated to start for two more weeks. The plan by county health care workers allowed them to get ahead.
As long as first doses keep coming, eligibility could soon move to those 75 and above. Those people could be getting theirs, like the 80-and-up population, weeks ahead of the rest of the state.
This is vital, because 80 and up have accounted for more than half of the COVID-19 related deaths in the state, and 60 and up accounts for roughly 91%.
Getting this group inoculated is the most important next step.
The effort made by all who have aided in the vaccination process — in spite of the challenges — is commendable, and should not go unnoticed.