Vaccinating in the rain

A nurse gives a shot through a driver’s window during a rainy drive-thru vaccination clinic on Friday, Jan. 8, 2021, at the Pendleton Convention Center. The clinic, conducted by Umatilla County Public Health to vaccinate health care providers and other essential workers, brought a strong turnout.

Roughly 600 people streamed through the parking lot of the Pendleton Convention Center for a pair of COVID-19 vaccination clinics late last week, according to the Umatilla County Public Health Department.

The vaccination clinics, which ran Thursday, Jan. 7, and Friday, Jan. 8, vaccinated 594 people total, 279 the first day and 315 the latter, according to Umatilla County Public Health Director Joe Fiumara.

“Going into the event we were unsure what the community turnout would be,” said Alisha Southwick, the deputy director of the Umatilla County Public Health Department. “We were pleasantly surprised to be busy each day and utilized every dose we had available.”

The clinics served as the county’s first attempt at distributing the COVID-19 vaccine and was limited to workers in the CDC’s Phase 1a category, including hospital workers and first responders.

Fiumara said the vaccination clinics exhausted the county’s supply of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine and the department is expecting an additional 100 doses later this week.

Umatilla County Commissioner George Murdock, who also raised concern over the lack of additional vaccines, added that the county will be unable to schedule further vaccination clinics until they receive additional doses.

“Public Health demonstrated (Jan. 7-8) they can give out 300 a day,” Murdock said. “They’ve done a wonderful job getting it all set up.”

While Murdock praised county health officials for a successful vaccination clinic, he expressed dismay at the speed at which the state is distributing vaccines to the county.

“It’s very frustrating,” he said. “We’re completely dependent on what they send us. They don’t send them — we don’t have them.”

In addition to the county exhausting its vaccine supply, Murdock said on Jan. 11 that St. Anthony Hospital in Pendleton had run out of doses and Good Shepherd Hospital in Hermiston was down to only 300 doses, a number he expected to dwindle quickly as the hospital offers additional clinics.

Fiumara confirmed that Good Shepherd is planning additional vaccine distribution this week to make use of their remaining 300 doses.

Murdock added that St. Anthony Hospital is expecting only one additional shipment, enough to provide the booster vaccine to those the hospital has already vaccinated, and will not receive additional shipments beyond that.

“We’ve done everything we can to get ready,” he said. “We’re all dressed up with nowhere to go.”

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