Beginning Friday, April 23, Columbia County will offer a new expanded site for mass COVID-19 vaccinations.

Columbia County COVID Vaccinations

An expanded mass vaccination clinic will open Friday, April 23, adjacent to the OHSU Scappoose Clinic.

Columbia County Public Health Director Michael Paul made the announcement during the Columbia County Board of Commissioners meeting Wednesday, April 21.

The expanded site will be adjacent to the Oregon Health Sciences University (OHSU) Scappoose Medical Clinic at 51377 SW Old Portland Road Crossroads Plaza in Scappoose.

“This will allow for more vaccines per hour in Columbia County and to accommodate a lot more people. With that new site we will be able to offer a vaccination to everyone in the next several weeks,” Paul said. “We want to make sure there is no one waiting for a vaccine.”

Paul said the county is at 60% vaccination rate for 65 or older in comparison with 73% statewide.

“We want to get as many people 65 and older immunized because we know that age is a severe factor in any disease,” he said.

According to Paul, vaccination appointments are still available though local providers and at the OHSU Scappoose Clinic and the OHSU Hillsboro drive through clinic. Vaccinations are also available in Vernonia, Mist and Clatskanie.

People can call Columbia County Public Heath at 503-397-7247, or visit the county health’s webpage for information.

“There really is no barrier to finding vaccination information and to scheduling a vaccination appointment,” he said. “And now that every adult over 16 is eligible, we are shifting our focus to how to make it most convenient to people who want a vaccine and to reduce as many barriers as possible.”

Rising COVID case impact

Paul said Columbia County’s rising COVID-19 cases over the past 14 days has led to the county’s risk classification being moved from Moderate to High on Friday, April 23 under the state’s efforts to slow the pandemic.

Paul noted that this week Columbia County would have been moved to Extreme High Risk had the COVID hospitalization not decreased in the past seven days. The high classifications include additional public restrictions and business limitations.

“That means takeout is highly recommended and capacity of restaurants is back to 25 percent maximum occupancy or 50 people and recommended social gatherings is six people from two households,” he said. See the attached Oregon Health Authority (OHA) list for specific classification requirements.

“We unfortunately had an additional death last week, bringing out total COVID-related deaths to 26,” he said.

Each time there is a death reported, Paul said the health department staff question where the person might have been exposed to COVID-19.

Columbia County will be under the pandemic classification caution, or warning period next week. On May 4 state officials will make the next classification determination.

The two-week caution period applies to counties facing backward movement. Counties that reduced their COVID-19 spread enough to move down in risk level in the previous two-week period, but see their numbers go back up in the next two-week period, are given a two-week caution period to re-focus efforts to drive back down creeping case numbers and give local businesses additional certainty on their plans for operating, according to the OHA.

“We aren’t finished with the pandemic yet,” Paul said. “We want to remind everyone of the health and safety recommendations, especially for indoor gatherings. Social distancing and masks are still important.”

Commissioners Henry Heimuller stressed that everyone needs to receive a COVID-19 vaccination.

“It used to be hard to get in and now it's not so hard to get in,” Heimuller said. “We would have been in the extreme risk classification come this Friday if it weren’t for lowering hospitalizations.”

Heimuller said volunteers are needed in the vaccination clinics and he urged anyone that could help to call county public health at 503-397-7247.

Heimuller said Columbia County is doing everything it can, including providing free transportation to the clinics to slow the pandemic.

Follow the daily pandemic reports here online with in-depth features in the Wednesday print editions of The Chronicle.

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