Oregon’s COVID-19 Vaccine Advisory Committee (VAC) met for the first time Thursday to discuss how critical workers and vulnerable populations will be prioritized in the state’s vaccine rollout.
The VAC will co-create a vaccine sequencing plan focused on health equity to ensure the state’s vaccine distribution plan meets the needs of populations who are most at-risk and hardest hit by the pandemic. These populations include communities of color, tribal communities and people with intellectual and developmental disabilities.
Educators and other staff at PK-12 schools and early learning centers will follow the Phase 1A group, which includes: health care workers, residents and staff at long-term care facilities and first responders, in the state’s most immediate prioritization order. The vaccine advisory committee is considering how to prioritize critical workers, such as transportation workers and grocery store workers, older adults, people with underlying conditions and other factors.
“Urgency,” said Cherity Bloom-Miller, VAC member with the Confederated Tribes of Siletz Indians Community Health Clinic. “We need to make some fast decisions to get vaccines out quickly.”
Oregon Health Authority Director Patrick Allen, who joined the group’s first meeting, shared the same sentiment. “The decisions you’re going to make will be incredibly hard and we’re asking you to make them incredibly quickly,” said Allen.
The meeting was a vital first step in determining upcoming sequencing. Recommendations for a vaccine sequencing plan are expected to develop over the next several weeks.
To date, 250,100 doses of vaccine have been delivered to sites across Oregon. There are more than 400,000 people in Phase 1-A.