I'm 72. My wife is 71. We've fortunate to be fully vaccinated with two Pfizer shots owing to some unusually lucky circumstances.
It irks me, big time, that Governor Brown and the Oregon Health Authority (OHA) have decided to make our state a leader in failing to prioritize seniors for immunization.
Oregon is one of only a few states that decided to vaccinate teachers before seniors. Back on January 16, I wrote about this stupid decision in "Outrage: Oregon seniors to get Covid vaccine after teachers."
This is a hugely irresponsible decision that is going to cause many old people to die.
According to the Oregon Health Authority, those 60 and over comprise 17% of Covid cases in the state and a whopping 91% of the Covid deaths.
Yet Brown said at a press conference that I watched via You Tube that children are suffering from distance learning and need to get back into in-person instruction as soon as possible.
Hey, Governor, you know who else has been suffering?
The 1,600 Oregon seniors who have died from Covid, many of them isolated from loved ones in a hospital bed, unable to say goodbye other than, maybe, via an iPad held up by an ICU nurse.
Children have their lives ahead of them. Seniors are nearing the end of their lives. Children can recover from learning problems during this pandemic. Seniors who die from Covid are gone forever, no second chances.
It's now March 1. Time to check on how many seniors 60+ have died since Governor Brown and the OHA told them to get in line behind teachers for their Covid shot.
Answer: 414, given that a OHA web page now shows 2,014 deaths in the 60+ age group.
As noted above, in mid January 91% of Covid deaths were of people 60+. Today the pecentage is exactly the same, 91%. The Governor's misguided policy has resulted in no benefit to the age group most at risk of dying from Covid-19.
Here's more evidence that the decision to make seniors wait to be vaccinated is appallingly bad, research reported in "Prioritizing oldest for COVID-19 vaccines saves more lives, years of life."
Challenging the idea that older people with shorter life expectancies should rank lower in coronavirus immunization efforts, new UC Berkeley research shows that giving vaccine priority to those most at risk of dying from COVID-19 will save the maximum number of lives, and their potential or future years of life.
The findings, published Feb. 25 in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, address the ethical dilemma of who should be first in line for a limited supply of vaccine shots amid a contagion that so far has killed 500,000 in the United States and 2.4 million globally.
“Since older age is accompanied by falling life expectancy, it is widely assumed that means we’re saving fewer years of life,” said study lead author Joshua Goldstein, a UC Berkeley professor of demography.
“We show this to be mistaken,” he added. “The age patterns of COVID-19 mortality are such that vaccinating the oldest first saves the most lives and, surprisingly, also maximizes years of remaining life expectancy.”
Recently the Portland Oregonian editorial board referred to seniors being subjected to a "Hunger Games" competition for scarce vaccines.
If seniors aren't skilled at using a computer to search for immunization sites with openings to get a shot, they're at a big disadvantage.
Today the 65-69 age group became eligible for a Covid vaccine, joining older seniors in Oregon. Yesterday a neighbor told me she was going to stay up until 12:01 am in an attempt to sign up on the Salem Health My Chart system.
(She's a Salem Health patient.)
Here's what she told me this afternoon in a text message, after I asked if she was successful in getting an immunization appointment.
Nope, not yet! I went into Walgreens and talked to the pharmacist and he said that our group is more savvy on searching online for appointments than the older ones before us and we are a large group as well so it might be hard to get appointments at first. (Not you!) He said go on several times a day and there should be some appointments soon. So I am doing My Chart and Walgreens at this point.
Follow-up texts from her: The last 3 times I logged into the Walgreens site, the scheduling segment said, this site is not available at this time. I think it has been overloaded and has crashed, because before it just said no appointments are available... It has changed again on Walgreens site I just checked. Now it just says appointments unavailable without even getting into the sign in area.
Perusing Facebook today, quite a few newly eligible seniors were saying that they struck out on finding a vaccine appointment.
For example, here's a exchange between two people that popped up on my Facebook feed today.
Comment: Ones ability to game the system should not be part of healthcare... but it is. I was on an unrelated site when I saw two strangers talking about going over to the Fairgrounds and winding up vaccinated. I went there the next morning and I am now two weeks post-2nd shot.
Reply: You're not alone, many others got walk-in shots. I made the mistake of believing them when they said vaccines were by appointment only. Silly me. I also thought there would be at least a county-wide appointment calendar where you could look and see where appointments were available.
The good news is, more vaccines are coming to Oregon and the nation as a whole, thanks to the competency of the Biden administration and vaccine producers.
The bad news is, it shouldn't be so damn difficult for seniors, or anybody, to figure out how to get a shot. Every state is handling vaccinations differently. And within each state, counties often have different procedures.
In an ideal world, seniors would have been the next priority for immunization after front line health care workers. And those seniors should have been able to schedule a shot appointment easily and quickly.
I realize that we don't live in an idea world. It just bothers me a lot that Oregon has done such a poor job of vaccinating seniors so far.