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Oregon falls short of booster shot goal, but new cases drop

FILE - This Wednesday, Dec. 23, 2020 file photo shows a vial of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine in the first round of staff vaccinations at a hospital in Denver. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski, File)

PORTLAND (AP) — Oregon health officials fell far short of a goal to get COVID-19 booster shots into the arms of an additional 1 million Oregonians by the end of January, state health data showed Tuesday.

Gov. Kate Brown announced the goal in mid-December as Oregon braced for a surge in cases and hospitalizations from the arrival of the highly contagious omicron variant.

But the state got booster shots into the arms of only 504,081 additional residents, just more than half of the goal, according to data released by the Oregon Health Authority.

Oregon’s booster rates are nevertheless higher than most states, with 48% of fully vaccinated people receiving a booster shot by this week, The Oregonian/OregonLive reported.

State health officials say that Oregonians are also better about following COVID-19 protective measures, such as wearing masks and limiting indoor social gatherings.

That has helped “sharply lower” the number of projected COVID-19-related hospitalizations from the latest surge to about 1,200. Just a week ago, forecast models showed that peak could be around 1,500 hospitalizations, and health officials warned of a peak that could have been as high as 1,900 hospitalizations.

The number of new COVID-19 cases statewide dropped more than 20% week-to-week, according to numbers released Monday, indicating that Oregon's omicron surge may have reached its peak and is now receding.