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Local vaccination strategy has shifted over time

I fully understand the scarcity of the COVID-19 vaccines. I also understand the need to prioritize the different groups. But here is what I don’t understand: Some private medical groups (e.g. Southern Oregon Internal Medicine) have had the vaccines all along and are vaccinating their patients, whereas other medical groups (e.g. Asante Physician Partners) have had no vaccines available. Why the disparity? I would think if some groups can obtain the vaccines, all groups should.

— Bill, Medford

In the past, Jackson County Public Health was trying to get local medical practices to provide vaccine to their patients. Some practices, such as Southern Oregon Internal Medicine, signed on early to deliver vaccines, said Dr. Jim Shames, Jackson County medical director.

Once those participating clinics scheduled appointment for patients, Jackson County Public Health was obliged to provide them with the first and second doses of vaccine. It will follow through with those obligations, but then discontinue that practice, he said.

Under the new approach, Jackson County Public Health, Asante and Providence teamed up and are running a consolidated vaccination effort in Medford that can give shots to up to 1,000 people a day, depending on vaccine availability.

The clinic provides equal access to everyone, regardless of where they get their health care, of if they have no provider at all, Shames said.

The partners know it isn’t easy for everyone to visit the clinic, and other types of outreach are still being supported.

Vaccine is being provided to various provider groups that have agreed to vaccinate underserved communities, including homebound elderly, residents of remote areas and people who have transportation problems or don’t speak English, Shames said.

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.