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How to get a vaccine in Linn and Benton counties
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How to get a vaccine in Linn and Benton counties

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With Oregon’s vaccine inventory slowly ramping up, counties will be seeing an even higher volume of doses in the coming weeks. In fact, both Linn and Benton counties just set records for the most daily doses administered at their respective clinics this week.

But with every county coordinating its vaccination campaigns differently, and with eligibility consistently expanding, it can be hard to keep up with just how to determine when it’s your turn for a shot and how to schedule an appointment to get one.

In the interest of having all that information in one place, Mid-Valley Media has put together this comprehensive article of vaccination resources for readers.

President Joe Biden is pledging to have 200 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines administered by the end of his first 100 days in office. That’s double the goal he set in December and reached earlier this month before his 60th day in office. Biden announced the new goal Thursday in his first formal news conference since his term began on Jan. 20.

Both Benton and Linn counties each have one mass vaccination clinic in operation each week. In Benton County, the clinic is at Reser Stadium, 660 S.W. 26th St. in Corvallis. In Linn County, vaccines are being distributed at the Linn County Expo Center, 3700 Knox Butte Rd. E in Albany.

In Corvallis, the clinic is offered Thursdays and Fridays, while in Linn County the clinic runs three days per week. Thursdays and Fridays are reserved for second-dose appointments only in Albany, while Wednesday is open to first-time dose recipients. It was on Wednesday, when Linn County received a one-time extra allotment of 1,000 doses, that the Expo Center site set a new high-water mark of 2,711 shots administered.

Both clinics have been vaccinating about 2,000 people per day, though that number is expected to increase as Oregon’s inventory expands and more doses are delivered to counties across the state. As that happens, both clinics may see expanded hours or added days of operation.

However, just when those extra dose allotments will become the norm appears fuzzy.

“OHA has kind of walked back a little bit on their assuredness on when that surge is coming,” said Benton County public information officer Alyssa Rash. “Originally, they promised (more doses) in the next week, now it sounds like it could be two or three weeks.”

 

Depending on which vaccine is administered, residents will have to wait different lengths of time for their second dose. For the Pfizer vaccine, a follow-up appointment will be scheduled three weeks later, while the Moderna vaccine requires four weeks. The Johnson & Johnson vaccine requires only one dose and currently accounts for the smallest portion of Oregon’s vaccine inventory.

Next comes the complex determination of whether you’re eligible or not. The guidelines for eligibility are being handed down by the Oregon Health Authority, so local resources often direct residents to the state’s website or hotline for specific information on eligibility. OHA is rolling out eligibility in “phases” and “groups,” with the idea being that the most vulnerable members of the population will be eligible for shots first.

Linn and Benton counties both applied for early expansion to the latest eligibility group, meaning local doses have already gone into the arms of some people who meet the new requirements. Currently, vaccination eligibility is going toward all individuals in Phase 1A and the majority of groups in Phase 1B.

Those include:

• People ages 45 and older with one or more underlying health conditions.

• Migrant and seasonal farm workers,

• Seafood and agricultural workers.

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• Food processing workers

• Residents of low-income senior housing, senior congregate housing and independent living facilities

• Individuals experiencing houselessness (sheltered and unsheltered)

• People currently displaced by wildfires

• Wildland firefighters

• Pregnant women over 16

Keep in mind that this list mostly focuses on the newest eligible individuals. Other professionals, including healthcare workers and educators, have been eligible for the vaccine for weeks now.

For a full list of eligibility requirements, you can visit OHA’s website at https://govstatus.egov.com/OR-OHA-COVID-19. Those without internet access or familiarity with computers can call the state’s information line by dialing 211.

The list of eligible health conditions can also be found by contacting OHA, though it generally includes: cancer, chronic kidney disease, COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease), heart conditions like heart failure or coronary artery disease, Down syndrome, sickle cell disease, Type 2 diabetes, and obesity.

Once you’ve determined that you’re eligible, you must then schedule an appointment. For Linn County residents, call 855-441-2311. Benton County residents should call 541-766-6120. Both counties provide information and scheduling in both English and Spanish.

Once scheduled, there will be paperwork for you to fill out and review before your appointment. Those without a working printer to print those out in advance will be provided a packet at the clinic, though this may impact wait time.

The biggest hurdle for both counties has been rural outreach. Benton County has an Alsea clinic scheduled for Saturday, April 10, but specific dates for a planned clinic in Monroe couldn’t be confirmed. Linn County is working on a Harrisburg clinic for next week but not date is set.

Linn County’s rural vaccination response has been helped by the fact that its mobile vaccination clinic has been up and running for weeks, delivering vaccines to residents in Brownsville, Gates and Scio who cannot make it to the Albany clinic. While a similar effort is underway in Benton County, its mobile unit is not yet operational and officials could not provide an update on its status.

Even though there may not be firm clinic times in rural parts of the county, publicly operated clinics aren’t the only option. Private healthcare providers in these locations may have an inventory of vaccines that they can administer to qualified patients. Contact your provider directly to learn more.  

For example, Community Health Centers of Linn & Benton Counties, which has locations in Monroe, Alsea, Lebanon and Sweet Home, is administering shots at these clinics, exclusively for established patients. They even have the ability to send nurses to the homes of patients who cannot get to physical locations.  

“While it’s not a community-wide resource, we do have the capability for house (visits) purely for patients of our clinics,” said Christine Mosbaugh, the CHC’s population and health engagement manager. “We’re trying to come up with our own solutions … to reach those high-risk individuals in our communities.”

Overall, Mosbaugh said that the vaccination effort highlights just how many moving parts – between county officials and private healthcare providers – are required in order to implement a mass vaccination campaign.

“There’s a lot of coordination happening between our public health officials and various local healthcare service providers,” she said.

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Editorial Note: This article has been updated with an accurate phone number for Benton County's vaccination hotline.

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