Update on local Covid-19 vaccination progress & challenges

MEDFORD, Ore. — Covid-19 vaccinations are rolling out across the state and the country.

But the process is not without its challenges.

“It is coming in more slowly than we had hoped,” said Dr. Jim Shames, Jackson Co. health officer.

Simple, is the last word health officials would use when discussing the Covid-19 vaccination process.

Dr. Shames says the county can only do so much with the doses they have available.

“We’re not sitting on a whole bunch of vaccine at the moment. We’re trying to get it out as quickly as we can,” Dr. Shames said.

So, where are the doses coming from?

Dr. Shames says the county gets its guidance from the Oregon Health Authority, which gets information from the federal government.

When it comes to actually putting the vaccine in people’s arms, that’s where the county steps in.

“The idea of mass vaccination clinics where you go out and get a jab in the arm and drive away probably isn’t going to be possible with this vaccine,” he said. “There’s enough people that have adverse reactions and mild to moderate allergic reactions. People are going to have to stick around and be observed.”

As for local memory care and skilled nursing facilities, Dr. Shames says the county is not involved in that process at all.

The federal government has contracted with three large pharmaceutical chains.

Avalon Oregon’s Amy Hoffman says of its three long-term facilities in southern Oregon, Medford’s ‘Hearthstone Rehabilitation’ is rolling out vaccinations this week.

“Unfortunately, long-term care facilities like ours have been on the front lines of the pandemic from day one. And [we’re] definitely looking forward to this vaccine as the turn of the tide,” said Hoffman, regional director of business development for ‘Avalon Oregon.’

Hoffman says the vaccines are strongly encouraged at its facilities, but not required.

Staff and patients not getting vaccinated is a major concern for Dr. Shames, who says refusal of the vaccine is already happening at much higher rates than the county would like.

The latest Oregon Health Authority data shows 51,255 people have been vaccinated in Oregon.

Click here to find out vaccination numbers by county.

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