OREGON, USA — Oregon's 130 nursing facilities are done with their first round of COVID-19 vaccine clinics.
Philip Bentley, CEO of the Oregon Health Care Association (OHCA), sees light at the end of the tunnel.
"This is a lifesaver, literally," said Bentley.
OHCA represents long-term care providers in Oregon.
In Phase 1a of COVID-19 vaccine rollout, skilled-nursing homes have top priority for vulnerable patients.
"We're hearing from folks that there are tears of joy," Bentley said of vaccine clinics.
CVS, Walgreens, and Oregon-based Consonus Pharmacy arranged distribution and clinics through a federal vaccine program. According to OHCA, there are 130 nursing facilities in Oregon, serving more than 8,500 residents and employing roughly 12,800 caregivers and staff.
This vaccination milestone is ahead of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) expectation that all first clinics in skilled nursing facilities be completed by the end of January.
However, it falls nearly a month behind the Trump Administration's original proposal to vaccinate nursing home residents by Christmas 2020.
Matt Ryan is general manager of The Ackerly at Timberland in Portland, overseeing memory care, assisted living and independent living communities.
His residents and staff are next in the 1a vaccine category after nursing homes. The Ackerly at Timberland's first clinic is scheduled for January 29.
"There's a lot of hopeful people, a lot of anxious people to get the vaccination," Ryan said. "We have been communicating weekly if not daily with the residents about the process."
While the rest of the state of Oregon grapples with fewer vaccines than promised from the federal government, big pharmacies have followed through with facilities that registered in Oregon.
"We have not seen any cases of shortages of [vaccines]," Ryan said. "I feel very confident about where we are and where we're going with the vaccinations."
The Ackerly at Timberland will join hundreds of other facilities in planning three scheduled vaccine clinics to ensure staff and residents get both required doses.
As many other Oregonians wait for the vaccine, an interview from December by Marquis Companies/Consonus Pharmacy CEO Phil Fogg Jr. serves as a reminder that it's still early.
"We're gonna move from an environment where we're allocating scarce resources to where we're going to get plenty of vaccine to be able to give to the entire community," Fogg said before the first vaccinations began in December.
"We're hoping the entire sector...be complete by early March," Bentley added. "[The vaccine] will also help many people return to a more normal state of being. Being able to see their loved ones again, and I know that's something we're all really looking forward to."