Jackson County Public Health Director, Dr. Jim Shames, says the county is trying to get more people vaccinated each week, but delays and smaller numbers of predicted doses are hindering the process.
So far, 46,381 people are fully vaccinated in Jackson County.
Dr. Shames says he wishes it were more.
“We have a capacity in our community for 15,000 vaccines per week and we’re hoping to be able to surge to a little more than 17,000 per week,” he said.
Dr. Shames says it’s the health department’s top concern, but setting up clinics without a guaranteed amount of doses is problematic.
“We just don’t have a good sense of how much we’re going to get, and when we’re going to get it,” said Dr. Shames.
He says a delay in vaccine delivery by manufacturers is slowing the process down, “We were expecting a significant amount of Johnson & Johnson vaccines starting next week, and it looks like that allotment is going to be less, maybe half than what we expected.”
However, Dr. Shames says it’s no cause for concern.
“It looks like we’re going to get a significant amount of vaccines, but the Johnson & Johnson component will be less, the Pfizer component will be more,” he said.
With a population of 221,000 people in Jackson County, a lot of work remains.
Dr. Shames says the county and state are looking at ‘all avenues’ in hopes of increasing vaccinations.
“We need some additional capacity, and FEMA is a resource… we’re looking for whatever in the short term that can bolster our ability to get vaccines in arms, and we’re talking everybody,” said Dr. Shames.
He says any announcements will be made as soon as possible.
“We’re expecting to have a lot of capacity to vaccinate shortly, and by the time the general public is ready, we hope to be ready as well.”
Dr. Shames encourages everyone to get vaccinated as soon as they’re eligible, as newer COVID variants are more infectious.
NBC5 News reporter Mariah Mills is a Medford native. She graduated from the University of Oregon with a Bachelor’s Degree in journalism. She also minored in sociology.
In school, she covered Oregon athletics for the student-run television station, Duck TV. When she’s not reporting, she’s reading, hiking and rooting for her favorite teams, the Seattle Seahawks and the Oregon Ducks.