Salem Health is allowing people to get the Covid vaccine who aren't part of the 1a group that supposedly comprises the only Oregonians eligible to be immunized currently.
This seems unfair to me, though I'm not criticizing those who took advantage of the extra doses that Salem Health has been doling out to those in the know who have shown up at the Fairgrounds vaccination site.
Yes, it is well known that often it is possible to get more shots out of a vial of vaccine than the usual number. That vaccine shouldn't go to waste. However, I don't understand why those extra doses are being given on a first-come, first-served basis to otherwise ineligible people when this opportunity hasn't been communicated to the general public.
I learned about this from a Facebook post by Tom Andersen, a member of the Salem City Council who was able to be vaccinated today even though he isn't a health care provider or a resident/staff member of a long term care facility. Those are the basic 1a groups; a detailed list of who is currently eligible to get a Covid vaccine is here.
Andersen said: "I got my first COVID shot today. The local hospital has extra doses so opened up at the state fairgrounds on a first come basis. While not one of the first, I was one of around 1000 or more who got shot."
I'm bothered by what Salem Health is doing. Public confidence in what will be a lengthy Covid vaccination process will be undermined if there appears to be favoritism in who gets a shot, whether intentional or unintentional.
Yesterday Governor Brown announced that as of January 23, seniors 65+ will be eligible to get vaccinated, along with teachers and some others . Here's the three tweets from Brown. Note that this next group, which I gather will be 1b, isn't supposed to be vaccinated until January 23, not January 13.
Hey, I'm 72. I'm newly eligible.
I'm also a Salem Health member, as my family physician works at their Edgewater Clinic. I didn't call my doctor's office, because Brown said I shouldn't. I figured that when seniors aged 65+ are able to be vaccinated, information about how to get a shot will be widely available.
But obviously a bunch of people learned that if you show up at the Salem Health vaccination site at the Fairgrounds, and there are extra doses available, it's possible to get vaccinated even though you aren't eligible to get a shot.
I went to the Salem Health Covid vaccination web page to see if there was any indication that someone not in the 1a group could be vaccinated. Answer: no, there is nothing about this. In fact, the message is the opposite.
So anyone who went to the Salem Health Covid Vaccine web page would be met with the words: "You must live or work in Marion County to be vaccinated at this site AND you must fall into Phase 1a (see below)."
That "below" says that Phase 1a includes health care workers, residents and employees of nursing homes, and first responders. Also, "Anyone who arrives to be vaccinated will be asked to attest to their eligibility as a member of OHA's Phase 1a groups living or working in Marion County."
Yet other people who show up at the Fairgrounds site have gotten vaccinated even though they aren't in the Phase 1a groups. Hopefully Salem Health can explain why this is happening.
It would be understandable that those administering the vaccines would grab anyone within reach if some doses were going to expire for lack of refrigeration, or whatever, and otherwise would need to be thrown away.
But this comment by Tom Andersen says that "extra doses" have been used by Salem Health several times in the past week. How does someone learn that these extra doses are available? Salem Health should be more transparent about why and how they are administering vaccinations to people who aren't currently eligible to get a shot.
Again, I couldn't find any indication on the Salem Health Covid Vaccine web page that it is possible for someone to wait in line for extra doses being given on a first-come first-served basis, yet this is happening.