KLAMATH FALLS, December 30, 2020 – Sky Lakes Medical Center today began administering COVID-19 vaccine to local healthcare professionals not associated with the Klamath Falls hospital.

Sky Lakes earlier this week received hundreds of doses of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine and a special ultra-low temperature freezer for its storage. The vaccinations follow the Oregon Health Authority’s vaccination plan.

Sky Lakes staff and providers last week were vaccinated with the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine, which arrived shortly before Christmas and does not require the very-cold storage or additional logistic considerations.

Vaccinating more healthcare workers contributes to the overall goal of more than 75% of the community being vaccinated to achieve widespread immunity, said Sky Lakes President and Chief Executive Officer Paul Stewart. 

“If we fail as a community to reach that threshold, then it is likely infections will continue and a return to anything close to normal life will be further delayed,” he said. “Vaccination is also fundamental to the Sky Lakes mission of taking care of people and goes to the core beliefs of most healthcare professionals.”

So far, more than 800 Sky Lakes staff, volunteers and providers have received their COVID-19 vaccinations. Sky Lakes anticipates vaccinating upwards of 200 area healthcare professionals. Klamath County Public Health is developing a list of first responders who wish to be vaccinated, and Sky Lakes plans to set aside time on Thursday for their vaccinations.

The vaccine shipments are part of the Oregon Health Authority’s phased distribution. Sky Lakes staff and providers are included in Phase 1-A, while “other essential workers” and people at higher risk of severe COVID-19 illness are in Phase 1-B. The general public will begin receiving vaccinations in Phase 2.

“We have not yet received information from the Oregon Health Authority regarding when vaccine will be available for Phase 2 vaccinations, nor have we received OHA guidance on details of the vaccination plan for that population,” Stewart said.

Sky Lakes Medical Center is a community-owned, internationally accredited acute-care hospital located in Klamath Falls, Oregon. Serving a 10,000-square-mile area of south-central Oregon and northwestern California, it is licensed for 176 beds and offers a full range of inpatient and outpatient services, a home health agency, a primary care clinic, and a variety of specialty physician clinics. The Sky Lakes family also includes the award-winning Sky Lakes Cancer Treatment Center and Cascades East Family Medicine Residency.