COVID VACCINE NOW
I work at Virginia Garcia Memorial Health Center, a Federally Qualified Health Center in Washington County, Oregon. As you are well-aware, the populations most affected by Covid-19 are disproportionately communities of color and people with barriers to healthcare. Washington and Multnomah Counties account for the vast majority of Covid-19 cases in the state of Oregon. Within Washington County, the patients at Virginia Garcia account for a startlingly high number of those cases. I find it unacceptable that three weeks following the arrival of vaccines in Oregon, Virginia Garcia Memorial Health Center has not yet received vaccines for our frontline staff and our most vulnerable patients. Our Covid testing site is 100 yards from a hospital entrance that has had the vaccine for 21 days. The disparity between the circumstances and opportunities could not be more stark. Oregon claims to understand that some communities are disproportionately affected by Covid-19 and it has pledged to address this. We need action. It stands to reason that if our frontline medical workers and most at-risk patients are vaccinated, there will be fewer patients in the hospital with Covid-19. I completely understand and support the need to vaccinate hospital staff at highest risk fo Covid-19. I also hope that Virginia Garcia frontline staff and highest-risk patients will immediately receive some of the 141,000 doses of this vaccine present (as of 1/4/21) in Oregon at this moment. More vaccines need to be given to the counties and primary care clinics with the greatest Covid caseloads in order to expedite administration and help stop the spread of Covid-19. Unless the people most at risk in our communities are prioritized, this pandemic will continue to be a problem for all.
Maura O'Leary, MD