Deschutes County and St. Charles Health System vaccinated more than 3,000 K-12 educators and school staff at the new vaccination clinic at the Deschutes County Fair & Expo Center over the Jan. 23-24 weekend, Lisa Goodman, public information and government affairs officer for St. Charles told the Source via email. This seems to have exceeded expectations. The large-scale clinic sought to vaccinate about 2,500 teachers, according to a press release from Deschutes County Jan. 21. People in Central Oregon age 75 and older are now also eligible to receive vaccines at the clinic, the County announced Jan. 25.
St. Charles’ Health System ad Deschutes County will continue to run vaccinations through the Deschutes County Fair & Expo Center.
“The community vaccination clinic at the Deschutes County Fair & Expo Center is incredibly successful,” said Dr. Jeff Absalon, St. Charles’ chief physician executive in the press release. “Since Wednesday [Jan. 20], St. Charles and Deschutes County have vaccinated 4,600 individuals in 1A and 1B - Group 1 Phases. We’ve been able to move through these two groups so quickly that we are able to expand eligibility to residents 75 and older ahead of the state’s vaccination schedule.” The Oregon Health Authority expected health officials to have to wait to vaccinate seniors—starting only with those 80 and older—until the week of Feb. 8 due to expected vaccine shortage.
OHA Director Patrick Allen said during a press conference earlier this month that he hoped large-scale events would help expedite vaccinations. Based on the vaccination counts from last weekend, it might work. Prior to the 4,600 people vaccinated this weekend, 10,735 people were partially vaccinated and 1,294 were fully vaccinated in Deschutes County, according to the Central Oregon Public Health Departments’ Tues., Jan 19 report.
“Large-scale vaccination events appear to be efficient and safe, therefore allowing for rapid administration,” said Goodman, the spokesperson from St. Charles. “In addition, we believe that large-scale events help ensure that every dose gets used, and that none are wasted. We have not wasted a single dose, and this is an important goal of all administration events.”
St. Charles and Deschutes County are now vaccinating child care providers, school teachers and seniors 75 and older.
Both the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines were administered at the clinic, with no serious adverse reactions, according to Goodman.
“Our physicians saw a couple of cases of minor rashes and itching,” Goodman said. “They were in people who had a prior history of allergic rashes and itching. Both were observed for a longer period of time and treated with oral medications. But no one had a major allergic reaction, such as anaphylaxis and required transport to the hospital.”
Spokespeople for both Bend-La Pine Schools and Redmond School District confirmed that educators and staff from the schools participated in the event. Julianne Repman, director of communication and safety for BLPS called the process at the clinic “awesome” and “smooth.” She also remained optimistic about teachers’ continued willingness to get vaccinated. While some details about how many teachers from different schools were vaccinated are unavailable for privacy reasons, Repman did say that at this point a variety of teachers and staff have been vaccinated.
“We’re only hearing of a few [teachers and staff] who are waiting for reasons varying from currently being in quarantine to medical issues to pregnancy,” Repman said via email. “They will be able to be vaccinated when they are ready, and those who opted not to be vaccinated can also sign up if they change their mind in the future.” The Redmond district employs about 940 educators and staff, and BLPS employs about 2,200.
Vaccinations at the Fair & Expo Center are expected to continue.
“Between Tuesday and Saturday, St. Charles and Deschutes County—with the help of the Oregon National Guard—plan to administer about 10,000 more doses,” Absalon said in Monday’s press release.
People in Crook, Deschutes and Jefferson counties who are 75 and older, as well as people already eligible under Phases 1A and 1B vaccination prioritization groups, can schedule an appointment for a vaccine on the St. Charles website. Those not yet eligible can sign up to receive an email notification when they are eligible that will include details on how to register for an appointment on the Deschutes County website. Information on who is included in the Phases 1A and 1B groups is available on OHA's vaccine sequencing graphic.
Ashley is an amateur cook, trained chemist and aspiring forest hag. Until she can move into a small hut in the woods with her chihuahua, Grendel, she passes her time playing board games and watching movies. She loves all things crafty, from brewing beer to crocheting amigurumi. She joined the Source in 2020.