March 6, 2021 — The first public offering of a vaccine for the COVID-19 virus in Florence took place at the Florence Events Center (FEC) on March 3, as Lane County oversaw the vaccination of 1,105 people who had pre-registered and been scheduled to receive the vaccination.
The organized process had all potential recipients checking in at the entrance to the FEC, where they were identified, and temperature tested before entering the main hall. There was a long-roped line which separated the public from the healthcare workers who were busy speaking with clients and performing injections.
This is also where the effort’s incident commander, Jason Bowman, drew out the individual doses available in the larger vials provided and separated them into six different syringes.
Bowman is assigned to the Lane County Sherriff’s Office as a member of the county’s Search and Rescue Team, but has taken on responsibilities associated with the vaccination effort in Oregon.
“We think things went really on Wednesday,” he said. “The Search and Rescue Team from Lane County was really happy to bring the vaccines to Florence. We know it might be difficult for some individuals that are eligible to receive the vaccine to make the trip into Eugene, so we were really pleased to be able to help them receive the vaccination without having to make the trip to Eugene.”
Staff from the City of Florence were on hand throughout the day to help with the process.
According to Florence Public Information Officer Megan Messmer, “Wednesday went extremely well and people moved through the process efficiently. We heard from many people as they left how easy and fast it was. Lane County Search and Rescue managed the registration and administering of vaccines inside the facility, supported by Lane County Public Health.”
The City of Florence was able to provide staff support for sanitation and prep work for the team from Search and Rescue.
“The city also staffed the outside of the facility for traffic flow and wayfinding. Several CERT (Community Emergency Response Team) volunteers assisted city staff in that effort throughout the day,” Messmer said.
The distribution of vaccines will continue at the FEC today, March 6, with a second round of vaccinations being offered to eligible residents. People were already notified of their eligibility by Lane County Public Health.
Bowman hopes for a similar turnout for those inoculations.
“We are looking forward to coming back to Florence on Saturday, for the distribution of another 1,000 doses. These will be available to individuals that have preregistered at the Lane County website,” he said.
There is a wait list for the event, but Bowman suggest interested individuals stay available as they may receive a last-minute call for a vaccination appointment.
People can preregister for their COVID-19 vaccine at lanecounty.org/coronavirus.
Oregon Gov. Kate Brown has made several comments about the vaccination of Oregonians in the past week.
“One year in, with our vaccine efforts continuing to ramp up, we truly see light at the end of the tunnel,” Brown said. “We have more than 14 percent of Oregonians vaccinated with their first dose — which is more than half a million Oregonians.”
As of March 1, OHA reported that 973,022 first and second doses of COVID-19 vaccine have been administered in the state. So far, Oregon has received vaccine from both Pfizer Inc. and BioNTech SE and Moderna Inc., which both arrived in December. OHA is adding a new vaccine, from Johnson & Johnson, this week, with an initial 34,000 doses. Unlike the Pfizer and Modern vaccines, the new vaccine only requires one dose.
The state will receive help from FEMA in administering vaccines to Oregonians.
Brown also announced a new vaccine prioritization schedule, which she hopes will see all Oregonians 16 and older eligible for the vaccine by July 1.
“Come summer, provided supplies from the federal government continue as planned, any Oregonian who wants the vaccine will be eligible to receive it,” Brown said. “While that gives us all a reason to breathe a sigh of relief, it should also serve as a reminder that the finish line is in sight — and we cannot let up.”
The next step for vaccinations will begin March 29, with the following groups eligible:
By May, the prioritization schedule will begin vaccinating frontline workers, 16-45 year olds with underlying health conditions and multigenerational household members.
No later than June 1, Phase 2 of vaccination will begin with all adults aged 45 to 64. And, no later than July 1, all Oregonians 16 and over will be eligible to receive a vaccine.
“As we vaccinate thousands of Oregonians each day and reopen more school buildings and businesses as safely as possible, now is not the time to let up our guard,” Brown said. “New, more infectious COVID-19 variants are circulating in the United States, including several confirmed cases in Oregon. We will continue to keep each other safe in the months to come by following the same safety measures we have throughout the pandemic — wearing face coverings, staying home when sick, maintaining physical distance and avoiding social gatherings.”
For more information about COVID-19 in Oregon, visit govstatus.egov.com/OR-OHA-COVID-19 or covidvaccine.oregon.gov.