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News Release
COVID-19 Vaccine Advisory Committee narrows recommendation, plans further discussion - 01/21/21

Jan. 21, 2021

Contact: OHA External Relations, covid19.media@dhsoha.state.or.us" target="_blank">orcovid19.media@dhsoha.state.or.us

COVID-19 Vaccine Advisory Committee narrows recommendation, plans further discussion

PORTLAND, ORE. – Oregon’s 27-member COVID-19 Vaccine Advisory Committee (VAC) met for its third official business meeting on Jan. 21 and discussed how to sequence populations in a way that centers on those most likely to experience both health inequities and the worst effects of COVID-19.

The committee agreed that data shows disproportionate impacts on communities of color, especially Black, African American, Latino/a/x, Pacific Islander, and Indigenous, Tribal and urban-based Native populations, along with people managing chronic health conditions.

Due to structural racism and inadequate access to culturally and linguistically responsive health care, communities of color experience higher rates of chronic health conditions, which may go undiagnosed.

VAC discussion centered on whether to consider communities of color and people with chronic medical conditions in sequential order or to start with people who meet multiple criteria. Kalani Raphael, M.D., Oregon Pacific Islander Coalition, stated, “Chronic health conditions are more common in minority communities. [Starting with chronic conditions] targets the most vulnerable people within our communities and it is one approach to this very, very complicated problem.”

Kelly Gonzales, Ph.D., representing Oregon Health & Science University, Portland State University and the urban Native community stated, “I don’t agree with removing BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, and People of Color) as the first priority. I think it whitewashes the structural racism and systemic racism that we are trying to center. By centering on BIPOC people and then including chronic conditions, there is an overlap there.”

Other considerations included focusing on migrant and seasonal farm workers due to the upcoming agricultural season, the need to keep categories broad enough so that vaccine doses aren’t wasted — especially in rural areas — and the reality that Oregon doesn’t anticipate enough vaccines to immunize all recommended groups in a short time frame.

At its Jan. 28 meeting, the VAC is expected to make a final recommendation, aided by analysis from Oregon Health Authority, on implementation and allocation scenarios.

The next optional information session will take place on Tuesday, Jan. 26, from 5:30-6:30 p.m., and the next formal VAC meeting will be held on Thursday, Jan. 28, from 10 a.m. to noon.

Vaccinations in Oregon

So far, 238,759 doses of vaccines have been administered in Phase 1a, which includes health care workers, residents and staff in long-term care facilities, group homes and home care for people with disabilities among others. Gov. Kate Brown has confirmed that teachers and education staff, as well as adults 65 and older (phased by age group) will be prioritized in Phase 1b.

OHA is  providing daily updates on administered doses of COVID-19 vaccines in Oregon on its vaccination data dashboard

The dashboard provides weekday updates on the number of people vaccinated, both by state and by county, along with key demographic information showing the race, ethnicity, sex and age of everyone who has been vaccinated.

View more news releases from Oregon Health Authority.