Five healthcare workers at the Legacy Hospital System were among the first Oregonians to receive the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine this morning. On a countdown of "three, two, one!", two registered nurses—one from the Legacy Emanuel intensive care unit and one from the Emergency Department—a radiographer, a respiratory therapist, and the housekeeping supervisor for Randall Children’s Hospital received the vaccine publicly just after 11 a.m.
“I’m taking this vaccine for my family and also for my community,” said Mayra Gomez, a registered nurse with Legacy. “As a Hispanic nurse, this [virus] is disproportionately affecting people of color and I want to lead by example.”
OHSU registered nurse Ansu Drammeh also received a vaccine from dental resident Ryan Thrower on the live video call with Oregon Governor Kate Brown. Drammah is one of 975 health care workers who will receive the vaccine at that facility in the coming days. “The last 10 months have been exhausting, mentally, emotionally, and physically here on the frontline in the ICU,” said Drammeh. “It has been absolutely a nightmare and a long journey.” Dina Ellwanger, President and Chief Nursing Officer at Saint Alphonsus Medical Center in Ontario, Eastern Oregon, also got the vaccine. She said that the center had in fact already vaccinated 20 frontline workers that morning.
The vaccinations were among a shipment of 35,100 vaccine doses that arrived in Oregon on Monday, with further shipments from Pfizer expected December 22 and 29. Oregon Health Authority director Patrick Allen said there would be three phases to the vaccine roll out, with the first phase divided into three sub-phases: the first includes healthcare workers and residents and staff in nursing homes and other long-term care facilities, followed by workers in essential and critical industries, then people at high risk and those 65 and older. The second phase will include other critical populations, with the general population receiving the vaccine in last phase.
“I want every Oregonian to know: [the] COVID-19 vaccination is the safest most effective most reliable way to keep yourself and your family and your community healthy and safe from the coronavirus,” said Allen.
If the Moderna vaccine is also approved, Oregon will receive more than 200,000 doses by the end of December, enough, said Allen, to vaccinate 100,000 Oregonians. More doses are expected in January.
"Our goal is to frankly leverage the effective and robust vaccine distribution system that we already have in place to work quickly toward community immunity," said Oregon Gov. Kate Brown after the vaccines were administered. "We will be convening a vaccine advisory committee to help make the decision about which essential workers go first, and then we’ll go from there."
More information about Oregon's vaccine rollout plan can be found at covidvaccine.oregon.gov.