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Despite Biden pledge, Gov. Brown isn't changing vaccine timetable yet

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — Oregon officials announced Friday that, while President Joe Biden’s pledge to make all adults eligible for vaccines by May 1 is welcome news, the eligibility timeline in the state will not change until weekly shipment allocations increase.

“Our plan in Oregon has always been to align our vaccination timelines to available federal supplies,” Brown said during a press conference. “As weekly shipment allocations increase, we will reassess our timelines. If the doses are there, I have every intention of utilizing all available state and federal resources to match the president’s timeline for universal eligibility.”

Ever since the vaccine became available in December, officials in Oregon have been methodical about who receives the shots and when.

Currently in Oregon, those who can receive the vaccine include health care workers, first responders, teachers and residents over age 65.

People who are 45 or older with a pre-existing condition, seasonal and migrant farmworkers, food processors, the homeless and those affected by last summer’s wildfires are scheduled to become eligible on March 29. In addition essential workers and people with underlying conditions between 16 and 45 are scheduled to become eligible May 1. All Oregonians over 16 who wish to receive a vaccine will be eligible no later than July 1, based on the state’s current timeline.

“Oregon is on track with our current eligibility timelines, which we set based on our current allocations,” Pat Allen, the health authority director said.

Oregon is averaging administering 24,000 shots per day. So far, 11% of Oregonians have been fully vaccinated.

However, Biden’s announcement Thursday will seemingly change the vaccination timeline. But Oregon officials reiterated they need “certainty” that the state will receive increased shipments before accelerating the eligibility timeline.

“We’ve been clear we want to advance our timelines, and we can move them up, if we receive enough doses from the federal government,” Allen said. “However, we need to know when more vaccine vials will arrive in Oregon, as promised, before we can tell a frontline worker or anyone else that we’re adjusting our timelines.”

Allen noted that former President Donald Trump’s administration had promised Oregon an increase in doses January. When the administration wasn’t able to fulfill their promise, officials in Oregon were forced to change the eligibility timeline — choosing to prioritize teachers ahead of the elderly.

“Until we get more clarity, we need to keep our current timelines in place. We can’t disappoint people who eagerly want a vaccine,” Allen said.

Cline is a corps member for The Associated Press/Report for America Statehouse News Initiative. Report for America is a nonprofit national service program that places journalists in local newsrooms to report on undercovered issues.

FILE - In this Jan. 13, 2021, file photo, Oregon Gov. Kate Brown visits the Marion County and Salem Health COVID-19 vaccination clinic in Salem, Ore. Brown said Friday, March 5, 2021, that she is issuing an executive order mandating that all public schools provide universal access to in-person learning by the month's end for students up to fifth grade and by mid-April for older students. (Abigail Dollins/Statesman-Journal via AP, Pool, File)