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Full immunization is the goal in Jackson County

Jamie Lusch / Mail TribuneThe Federal Emergency Management Agency will be aiding in an upcoming vaccination clinic at the Jackson County Expo.

Every Jackson County resident 16 years or older could be vaccinated by the middle of June.

Jackson County officials announced this goal Thursday after receiving help from Providence Health and Services, the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the Oregon Health Authority, which have teamed up to get shots in people’s arms as fast as possible.

The county will receive an extra 1,000 shots a day of either the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines, which will be in addition to immunization efforts at various clinics throughout the valley.

“Pun intended, this will be a huge shot in the arm,” said Jana McLellan, director for COVID-19 Response and Recovery with the Oregon Health Authority.

McLellan and other officials announced the pilot program to help speed up the vaccination effort in Jackson County, which was hard hit by the pandemic and the fires last summer.

Details are still being worked out, but a mobile vaccine effort will be unveiled soon to get the vaccines to agricultural workers, rural areas and minorities.

A walk-in clinic at The Expo in Central Point will also be used for the increased vaccination effort, and drive-thru vaccination events are being planned at The Expo.

McLellan said one of the goals is to get more shots in the arms of minority groups, who have so far had lower vaccination rates than the population as a whole.

“We’re trying to bring this pandemic to an end,” she said.

FEMA stepped up to help because Jackson County has been particularly hard hit by disasters over the past year.

“Everybody who wants a shot will have the ability to get one,” said Vince Maykovich, acting regional administrator with FEMA, Region 10.

John Vial, Jackson County emergency director, said the county welcomes the help from outside agencies.

“Our organizations that help people are tired,” he said.

He said the goal of getting everyone vaccinated in the county over the next eight weeks gives these local organizations hope that there is an end in sight.

“When we’re done, our county will be fully vaccinated,” he said.

Starting April 19, every Oregon resident 16 and older will be eligible for the vaccine.

At the same time, new varieties of COVID-19 continue to appear, worrying health officials.

“We are in a race to get the vaccine out there with the rapid spread of COVID variants,” said Tanya Phillips, health promotion manager for Jackson County Health and Human Services.

The walk-thru vaccination clinic at The Expo is operating now, and an appointment can be scheduled at jcorcovid19.org/VaccineAppointments or call 211 for information.

Starting next week, people can receive the Pfizer vaccine at The Expo through the drive-thru option. More information on how to register will be available soon.

Also, check the Jackson County Health and Human Services COVID-19 Vaccine website for vaccine locations: jacksoncountyor.org/hhs/General/NewsInformation/covid-19-vaccine-1.

Even if you’ve been vaccinated, health officials recommend people continue to wear masks and wash hands frequently.

Oregon is no longer giving the single-dose Johnson & Johnson shots because of blood clots experienced by a small number of women, ages 18 to 48.

The Johnson & Johnson vaccine has been administered to 81,255 Oregonians, a fraction of the 1.5 million doses that have been given out.

In order to have full immunity to COVID, it takes two weeks after the final shot.

Reach reporter Damian Mann at 541-776-4476 or dmann@rosebudmedia.com. Follow him on Twitter @reporterdm.