Updated March 1, 2021

 

Oregon began administering the first doses of the two approved COVID-19 vaccines in December 2020. So how do you get one? 

First you have to figure out if you’re eligible. As of March 1, Oregon is currently in Group 5 of phase 1B, which includes all senior age 65 and up in addition to all previously eligible groups. Also as of March 1, the state is asking seniors and others who are eligible to register at getvaccinated.oregon.gov. Every week, the Oregon Health Authority will scramble the names of eligible registrants in the metro area and send a list of names that matches the number of appointments available. If you're scheduled, you'll be notified by text and phone, or email.

To find out more about eligibility and scheduling, visit covidvaccine.oregon.gov. Previously, you could schedule an appointment at the Oregon Convention Center directly through a chat tool in the lower right-hand corner, which would take you through the steps to consider your eligibility and then (in theory, at least) display available times. While the convention center scheduling has been replaced by the registry, the chat tool can still be used to schedule a vaccine at a drive-thru site in an airport economy parking lot, managed by OHSU and meant for those with mobility issues (or people can schedule through OHSU's website, too). New times for the drive-thru vaccination site come online at 9 a.m. on Mondays and Thursdays.

You can also access general vaccine information by calling 211 or 1-866-698-6155, emailing [email protected], or texting your zip code to 898211. Between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. Monday to Friday, language interpreters are available by phone, text, and email in English and Spanish. It could take a day or more to have your particular question answered: a recent inquiry of ours about a step that requested an 8-digit code took 23 hours to get an answer (and the answer is that there is no 8-digit code and that page appears to be a dead end!).

As part of the Federal Retail Pharmacy Program, a partnership between the US Federal government and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to increase vaccine distribution, 21 national pharmacy partners and independent pharmacy networks are activating as vaccine sites. Shipments arrived on February 10 at 127 retail pharmacies in Oregon, and on February 15 the service became available in Oregon for adults 75 and older. This covers 27 of Oregon’s 36 counties and includes 103 Safeway/Albertson’s locations, 13 Costco locations, and 11 Health Mart pharmacies. On February 23, Walgreens announced select Oregon locations would begin administering vaccines, too. To check availability, visit the individual chains' websites. Walgreens and Health Mart may require an online account in order to sign up.

No matter what avenue you're using to schedule an appointment, it’s worth checking frequently as things change and new appointments are made available. Be prepared to try, try again, and be frustrated, as the times are limited and many people are trying to schedule. 

Who is eligible to receive a vaccine right now?

  • All individuals who meet the criteria in the state's Phase 1A category
  • All Oregon educators (public and private K–12 educators and staff, early childhood educators and staff, and licensed childcare centers and staff)
  • Anyone 65 years and older

The Oregon Convention Center site remains the primary location for vaccinations locally, but health experts at OHA recommend folks with mobility concerns and seniors who would be best served in a vehicle use the drive-though clinic at the Portland International Airport. 

Who will get the vaccine next?

On March 29, those in Phase 1B Group 6 will become eligible for a vaccine. This includes adults between 45 and 64 with certain health conditions that pose an increased risk; migrant and seasonal farmworkers; seafood and agricultural workers; food processing workers; people living in low-income senior housing, senior congregate and independent living; individuals experiencing houselessness; people displaced by wildfires; and wildland firefighters.

For phases 1B, 1C, and 2, OHA had convened a vaccine advisory committee to help ensure that vaccine distribution was equitable and reached at-risk and vulnerable populations, including representatives from Native and Indigenous peoples, hospitals, nonprofits, and other communities disproportionately impacted by the pandemic. The full list of committee members can be found here

Who's been vaccinated so far? 

To date, 276,119 Oregonians have received just one dose of the vaccine while 345,648 have been fully vaccinated. Oregon has administered a cumulative total of 911,648 first and second doses of the vaccine. According to the Oregon Health Authority, vaccine supplies should climb mid-March to allow for more appointments and vaccinations of eligible populations. 

How long will it take to vaccinate everyone?

On January 4, after facing criticism that Oregon was lagging far behind nearly every other state, Gov. Kate Brown announced a new goal of administering 12,000 vaccine doses a day by around January 15—roughly equal to the allotment of vaccines the state receives every week. The state first hit that goal on January 8, and has been largely surpassing it since, with some exceptions including recent days when many vaccination sites had to close due to weather conditions. Over the past week, there were more than 20,000 vaccinations on average per day. 

According to the World Health Organization, the threshold for herd immunity varies by disease and is currently unknown for COVID-19. For measles it is 95 percent of the population; for polio, 80 percent.

According to the current distribution schedule, all Oregonians age 16 and older will be eligible for the vaccine no later than July 1. 

Where else can I get vaccinated? 

In addition to some participating pharmacies and the Oregon Convention Center’s mass vaccination site, run by four major local hospitals or hospital systems (Kaiser Permanente, Legacy Health, OHSU, and Providence), OHSU has, in collaboration with other health systems and organizations, also opened community vaccination clinics at Portland International Airport’s Red Economy Parking Lot, its own campus on Marquam Hill, and in mobile vans. On February 23, Portland Expo Center made its site available for COVID-19 testing on weekdays and as a vaccination site on weekends, with OHSU providing all services and operations from appointments to reception and post-vaccination observation. The agreement with OHSU is scheduled through June 2021 and could last longer, says Matthew Rotchford, Portland Expo Center executive director. 

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