COVID-19 vaccinations will begin Thursday in Oregon for youth age 12 to 15, after the Oregon Health Authority granted final approval late Wednesday.
The Portland area’s mass vaccination sites said they are ready to start administering Pfizer-BioNTech vaccinations to this pre-teen and teen group. Initial demand in the Portland area is expected to be strong, with at least one pediatrician’s office reporting a waitlist 600 kids long.
“This is great news for Oregon children, parents, and families,” said Gov. Kate Brown, in a written statement. “Vaccination is the best tool we have to protect ourselves and our loved ones.”
Here’s how to get shots into younger adolescents’ arms as soon as possible::
- The Oregon Convention Center’s mass vaccination site is open from 7 a.m. to 2 p.m. Thursday and will accept walk-ins. Appointments also can be scheduled at All4Oregon.org. The vaccination site is closed Fridays and Saturdays, but open Sundays to Tuesdays from noon to 7 p.m., as well as Wednesdays and Thursdays from 7 a.m. to 2 p.m.
- Hillsboro Stadium’s drive-thru site will accept a “limited” number of drop-ins during its operating hours of 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday. The site, however, will accept “a large number of drop-ins” from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. Thursday, including 12- to 15-year-olds, said Franny White, a spokeswoman for Oregon Health & Science University, which operates the site. Spanish and English speakers will be staffing Thursday’s event. Appointments also can be scheduled on OHSU’s website or -- for those without internet access -- by calling 833-647-8222.
- The drive-thru site at Portland International Airport’s red economy parking lot is closed Thursdays, but it is open Fridays through Mondays from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. Staff will vaccinate people without appointments, based on availability. Appointments also can be made on OHSU’s website or -- for those without internet access -- by calling 833-647-8222.
- Outside the Portland area, Salem Health officials said they are ready to start vaccinations of young adolescents Thursday at the state fairgrounds, which opens at 8 a.m. Appointments also can be booked at www.salemhealth.org/covid-19/covid-vaccine, which also lists operating hours. Walk-ins are welcome.
Pediatricians’ offices, medical offices, community clinics and pharmacies also expect to offer shots. Walgreens’ website Wednesday evening stated that it was scheduling appointments. Lisa Whitlock, CEO of Sellwood Medical Clinic, said at one point her clinic had a waitlist 600 children long. Whitlock said the clinic scheduled more than 400 appointments for 12- to 15-year-olds in less than 90 minutes on Wednesday for the coming days.
“I can tell you from what I hear from parents is they’re so excited to get the vaccine and open up Oregon,” Whitlock said. “Demand is huge.”
Vaccination sites are requiring parental consent for children ages 12 to 14. At the convention center, for example, if someone else accompanies a child to the vaccination, a parent or guardian should fill out a consent form listed on the All4Oregon.org website ahead of time.
Oregon law allows youth 15 and older to consent to the vaccine on their own, so parental approval isn’t needed.
The governor noted that the Pfizer vaccine is safe and effective in youth, but “it is completely normal for parents and kids to have questions about vaccines. I urge you to reach out to your family doctor or pharmacist and get your questions answered today.”
A clinical trial showed the Pfizer vaccine was safe and highly effective in a trial of more than 2,200 youth ages 12 to 15. After two doses, the study recorded 18 cases of people with COVID-19 symptoms in the placebo group, but zero in the group that had received the vaccine.
On Monday, the Food and Drug Administration approved the vaccine for this age group. An advisory committee to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the agency’s director signed off Wednesday. Shots immediately began going into arms in some states.
The Western States Scientific Safety Review Workgroup -- which offers recommendations to governors in Oregon, Washington, California and Nevada -- and the Oregon Health Authority both gave approval late Wednesday. That clears the way for inoculations Thursday.
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-- Aimee Green; [email protected]; @o_aimee