Oregon hospitals wait days to administer COVID-19 vaccine, Moderna vaccine expected soon

Health professionals across the country are getting their first COVID-19 vaccine this week, but hospitals in Oregon have yet to vaccinate their frontline workers.

In Texas, Delaware and Puerto Rico, hospitals gave their workers the shot just one day after getting the vaccine. New York and Colorado acted even quicker, administering the vaccine within hours of receiving it.

In Oregon, Legacy Health was the first hospital system to get the Pfizer vaccine. It arrived Monday. The hospital has yet to provide a timeline as to when it’ll start the vaccinations.

On Tuesday, OHSU and Kaiser Permanente received their shipments. OHSU has said it’ll start vaccinating its employees Wednesday, but Kaiser says it’s waiting until Friday.

“This is a new vaccine, as I said, and it’s a complex vaccine,” Dr. Katie Sharff, an infectious disease physician for Kaiser Permanente Northwest, said.

Dr. Sharff added that it’s essential administrators feel confident in giving the vaccine and that requires rigorous training.

“We are as anxious as anyone to get vaccines in peoples arms, but we feel like taking that extra day or two to make sure that our nurses and medical providers feel confident in the process is more important.”

The Oregon Health Authority (OHA) echoed a similar statement.

“We need to get the vaccines administered as soon as possible. Keep in mind this is a brand new vaccine,” Jonathan Modie, a spokesman for OHA, said. “Providers of this vaccine want to take the time to make sure they have all the information on them.”

KATU reached out to Governor Kate Brown’s office and got a statement which says in part:

The Governor is focused on ensuring Oregonians know that this vaccine is safe and effective, as verified by the FDA, the CDC, and the Western States Scientific Safety Review Workgroup. Hospitals are working to doing their due diligence to make sure vaccinations are done right.

In Southwest Washington, PeaceHealth also got a shipment of the Pfizer vaccine Tuesday. It plans to start administering the shots Wednesday. Legacy Salmon Creek has yet to receive a shipment from Pfizer.

“We just found out late last week that we wouldn’t be receiving any [this week],” Ryan Erlewine, the director of pharmacy and clinical support services with Legacy Salmon Creek, said. Erlewine says he’s not sure when they’ll be getting the vaccine from Pfizer. Now, the hospital is hoping to get its hands on the Moderna vaccine next week.

“I think what’s really good news, we’re expecting the FDA to approve the Moderna vaccine on Friday,” Erlewine told KATU.

Erlewine says the state of Washington is expected to get a shipment of the Moderna vaccine early next week. He says the state is anticipating 128,000 doses of the Moderna vaccine to ship by Christmas.

“Just to put it in perspective, the numbers they gave for the Pfizer doses in the state this week was about 62,000. So, it’ll be about double that number,” Erlewine said.

Even if Salmon Creek gets the Moderna vaccine on Tuesday, Erlewine says the hospital likely won’t start giving the shots until Thursday or Friday.

“We would go as quickly as possible,” Erlewine added.

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