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Wait for COVID-19 shots for seniors could be long

Given the supply shortages, is it still the plan to offer vaccinations to people 80 and older starting Feb. 8? When will we learn Jackson County locations and other details?

— Jim, Ashland

Information on the COVID-19 vaccination rollout is changing on a weekly, daily and sometimes even hourly basis.

But here’s the latest on what we know.

Vaccinations for older people are extremely limited for now because the state hasn’t sent enough of the vaccine it gets from the federal government to Jackson County.

Oregon officials said they redirected vaccines to counties that are having troubling vaccinating their health care workers. That group, plus residents and staff of nursing homes, became eligible in December 2020.

People involved in education became eligible next.

Statewide, people 80 and older became eligible Monday. Those 75 and older become eligible Feb. 15, 70 and older are eligible Feb. 22, and those 65 and older are eligible March 1, under Oregon’s current plan.

But Jackson County Public Health and health care providers are warning that shots for local seniors will be in very short supply.

Jackson County will be providing updates about places to get vaccinated at jacksoncountyor.org/hhs/General/News-Information/covid-19-vaccine-1.

Check the website for appointment information with Jackson County Public Health and chain store pharmacies.

For now, Asante is not scheduling first doses of the two-shot COVID-19 vaccine. The local health network is focused on providing second shots for those who already received their first.

Jackson County, Asante and other partners are planning a drive-thru vaccination event at the Jackson County Expo Thursday through Saturday. However, the event is only for people with ties to health care, education and nursing homes who received a first dose at a January drive-thru event at The Expo. Second shots will be administered this week.

This week’s drive-thru event at The Expo is not for senior citizens, unless they received a first shot at the January event and fell into the health care, education and nursing home groups that were eligible back then.

Statewide, Oregon officials are cautioning older people there won’t be enough shots for everyone who wants one, at least for a while.

On Monday, Oregon launched a new online tool at getvaccinated.oregon.gov to help people find out whether they are eligible and get linked to information about vaccinations in their counties. Users can sign up for alerts to get notified about vaccination events or find out when they may become eligible.

We had a currently eligible staff person go through the process to create an account with getvaccinated.oregon.gov. The person ended up being directed to the Jackson County Public Health information website for information. We don’t know yet whether the person will get alerts about vaccination events.

Another alternative is to call 2-1-1 or 1-866-698-6155 from 6 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily for vaccination information. Wait times may be long due to high call volumes, state officials said.

Residents and staff at most licensed senior facilities for older adults and people with disabilities are receiving on-site vaccinations through pharmacies enrolled in federal vaccination programs. Residents or family members can ask their facility operator about vaccinations, state officials said.

Southern Oregon Rehabilitation Center & Clinics in White City is making vaccination appointments for veterans 65 and older who are eligible for Veterans Affairs health care. Call 541-826-2111 ext. 4440.

Send questions to “Since You Asked,” Mail Tribune Newsroom, P.O. Box 1108, Medford, OR 97501; or by email to youasked@rosebudmedia.com. We’re sorry, but the volume of questions received prevents us from answering all of them.