Vaccine push picks up
Ming Phelps was one of hundreds of people who received a COVID-19 vaccine at the Douglas County Fairgrounds on Saturday.
Aviva Health hosted the 10-hour large-scale vaccination event with the help of Douglas Public Health Network, Douglas County COVID-19 Response Team, Umpqua Health Alliance and other volunteers from across the county.
Phelps said she got the vaccine to protect herself, but also those around her.
“I take care of my mom at home, she has dementia,” Phelps said. “I don’t want to put her at risk or anything. I also have other health issues, I have a weakened immune system due to autoimmune disorders, and my daughter has asthma and so does my husband. We’re all kind of a higher risk family so we just want to protect as much as we can to try to avoid getting any of it.”
All people vaccinated Saturday fell within the state’s Phase 1a group. People had to pre-register for the event and could not receive the vaccine without proof of registration.
Phelps has seen the impact of COVID-19 when her sister, daughter and son-in-law contracted the virus and decided to get the vaccine as soon as she was eligible.
On Saturday, she was ushered into Douglas Hall at the fairgrounds and moved from station to station to get vaccinated.
Jodee Jackson, an Aviva board member, volunteered her time outside and said the process had gone smooth most of the day.
“One person said it felt like he got the Willy Wonka golden ticket,” she said.
Jackson helped pre-screen people before they went into the building where the vaccines were given.
Once inside, people moved from station to station and in the end had to wait either 15 or 30 minutes to make sure they didn’t have an adverse reaction to the vaccine.
There were more than 100 volunteers to help with the first mass vaccination event in the county, which Aviva Health CEO KC Bolton likened to a military operation.
“We know our community is eager to receive the vaccination, and we’re doing everything we can to quickly move through OHA’s Phase 1a vaccine sequencing list so we can begin vaccinating the general public,” Bolton said. “It’s our intent to make the vaccine available to everyone as fast as we can, and we’re hopeful future allotments from the state will arrive expeditiously.”
Most people received Pfizer vaccines that came from CHI Mercy Medical Center, although there were some Moderna vaccines available as well that would be used toward the end of the day.
To assure none of the vaccinations went to waste, a waitlist was also created.
Aviva Health, Douglas Public Health Network and Douglas County COVID-19 Response Team worked together to coordinate the event.
Bolton said the main goal of the event was simple: “To run out of vaccine.”
But the event also served a second purpose: a trial run for future mass vaccination events.
“We’re leaning heavily on partner organizations and other volunteers to ensure the event is a success,” Bolton said. “If there’s a silver lining to the pandemic, it’s that over these last several months different health care organizations from across the county are coalescing in response to COVID-19, and that kind of partnership and collaboration is critical in the success of this kind of effort.”
Douglas County has hosted drive-thru flu shot clinics in previous years, which helped with communication between the different health organizations.
“It feels like just another Saturday,” Douglas Public Health Officer Bob Dannenhoffer said, before talking about the differences between the two events.
“We have to collect insurance information, which we did not do (at the drive-thru flu clinic),” he said. “The other thing is, the flu vaccine was very plentiful and cheap so we didn’t have the Fort Knox kind of security over the flu vaccine.”
Another difference is the reaction, while life-threatening allergic reactions are extraordinarily rare for the flu vaccine about one in 10,000 people strongly react to the COVID-19 vaccine.
And although no reactions were expected, or had occurred by noon, Bolton and Dannenhoffer said the safest place to have the reaction would be at the fairgrounds with the medical personnel. It’s also why people were asked to wait 15 or 30 minutes before they left Douglas Hall.
The goal was to vaccinate 600 people, or about one person per minute. Although there may be slightly less based on the amount of vaccine that was available.
Dannenhoffer said the plan as of Saturday is to start vaccinating teachers on Monday and the oldest people in the community on Feb. 8, but it will depend on the amount of vaccine available.
People who received their first dose Saturday will need a second dose in three to six weeks, but Bolton said he hopes that by that time there will enough vaccines in the community that people will be able to get those at their local doctor or pharmacy.
Douglas County has reported one death and 28 new cases of COVID-19 in the past two days.
The 44th death of a Douglas County resident related to the coronavirus was reported Friday. An 84-year-old man was diagnosed on Jan. 8 and died Jan. 21.
On Friday, the Douglas County COVID-19 Response Team also reported 17 new positive test results and one presumed positive case. On Saturday, the response team reported 10 positive results to bring the total to 1,767.
As of Saturday there were 13 local residents hospitalized with COVID-19, 11 locally and two out of the area.
Douglas Public Health Network is supporting 162 cases in isolation and 371 in quarantine throughout the county. Isolation is recommended for confirmed and presumptive cases.
Just before 1 p.m. Saturday, the state announced its death toll had risen to 1,877. 775 people were confirmed or presumed positive for COVID-19 in the last 24 hours, bringing the state total to 137,600.
On Friday, Douglas County also reported that Oakland High School would be temporarily closed as a result of a positive COVID-19 case.
“Because we are a small high school many of our teachers see students of all grade levels, so we are opting to return to distance learning for the short term,” Oakland School District Superintendent Patti Lovemark said. The plan is for students to return to on-site learning on Feb. 1.
Due to widely available COVID-19 testing opportunities, the county has scaled back its testing clinic to one day a week. The next drive-thru testing clinic will be Friday in Roseburg.
A winter weather advisory remains in place from The National Weather Service for lower elevation snow on Sunday morning.
The catch: For those looking to see some significant snow, be prepared to climb above 1,500 feet in Douglas County.
The advisory says moisture from a front moving into the area Sunday morning combined with cold air will result in lower elevation snow. Snow levels are expected to begin between 1,000 and 2,000 feet, increase slightly Sunday afternoon before lowering again Sunday evening. Forecasters say that’s the best chance when light snow could reach near or at valley floors.
Snow accumulations are likely on roadways above 2,000 feet for much of the area and down to 1,500 feet Sunday night in southern Douglas County and in the southern Rogue Valley in and near Ashland. At least 1 to 5 inches of snow are predicted during Sunday’s event, mostly above 2,000 feet.
The lowering snow level overnight Monday could mean some areas in the Umpqua Valley could see a dusting of snow Tuesday morning. Tuesday night, the snow level is expected to hover around 900 with a low temperature of 31, before the snow level climbs back above 2,000 feet Wednesday.
In the eastern Douglas County Cascades, Diamond Lake is predicted to see light but steady snowfall beginning Friday and extending into next week. While no heavy snowfall is expected, the area could see up to 6 inches of new snow over the coming week.
Travelers should be prepared for hazardous road conditions and are advised to carry tire chains. Those traveling on Highway 138 East should be prepared for roadside snow beginning in the Dry Creek area and approximately 3,360 feet.
Those planning to travel Sunday or later are advised to check road conditions from tripcheck.com and the latest forecast from The National Weather Service.