Update from the Oregon Health Authority.
Currently, two vaccines are nearing approval. The vaccine producers, pharmaceutical companies Pfizer and Moderna, report that the vaccines were found to be 90% and 95% effective, respectively, in preventing symptomatic COVID-19 in Phase 3 study participants.
The vaccines are waiting for approval under an Emergency Use Authorization from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) after a rigorous testing and trial process. Oregon has made the safety of COVID-19 vaccines a top priority and has joined a consortium of western states (Washington, California, Nevada and Colorado) that is reviewing all vaccines for safety before they are made available to the public. Federal partners are also working to ensure the safety of COVID-19 vaccines.
If approved, a limited supply will be available in December. People will need two doses, spaced a few weeks apart. Because the initial supply of first doses will be limited, the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) recommends prioritizing two groups: health care workers treating COVID-19 patients and residents of long-term care facilities. OHA has not yet determined prioritization and will convene a Vaccine Advisory Committee to gain input from community members about how to ensure an equitable approach to distribution.
OHA is working with vaccination providers, including doctors’ offices, retail pharmacies, hospitals and federally qualified health centers, to ensure that people in Oregon can easily get a COVID-19 vaccine as soon as large quantities are available. The hope is that there will be enough vaccine to start widespread immunization in spring 2021.
This news offers hope that we may be able to end the widespread impact of the pandemic, but it’s important to continue taking steps to slow the spread. Please stay home whenever possible, avoid gatherings, wear a face covering, keep six feet of physical distance, and wash hands often.
Keep up to date with Oregon’s COVID-19 vaccine plans at healthoregon.org/covidvaccine