New federal guidelines clash with Oregon’s vaccine rollout

ORE.- Seniors struggled to get appointments at some pharmacies this week, despite being eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine. It’s all due to a clash between Oregon’s vaccination timeline and new federal policy.

New guidance from the White House urges the prioritization of teachers to help with the return to in-person learning across the nation.

But Oregon already started vaccinating teachers back in January, causing seniors to wait until February and the beginning of March to get their shots. Now federal policy would have eligible seniors wait even longer.

The additional delay prompted Governor Kate Brown and the Oregon Health Authority to urge pharmacies who are part of the Federal Vaccination Program to disregard the new guidance and continue vaccinating seniors.

Charles Boyle, a spokesperson for the Governor Brown’s Office said, “This was a decision made at the federal level without prior consultation with state leaders. Governor Brown is working directly with the white house to update this policy to allow pharmacies participating in the federal program in states like Oregon  to continue to schedule appointments for seniors.”

OHA Director Pat Allen sent a letter to the director of Safeway and Albertsons pharmacies, making recommendations to continue scheduling appointments for seniors.

In the letter, Allen said because Oregon has largely completed COVID-19 scheduling appointments for educators and staff statewide, the CDC Federal Retail Pharmacy Program guidance language should not be interpreted to mean that the pharmacies will exclusively schedule teachers, school staff, and childcare workers between now and March 31, 2021, when the federal guidance ends.

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