When the staff at Columbia Health Services (CHS) opens their boxes of vaccine for their clinics at the Sacagawea Health Center, they have to use the doses within five hours.

The Vaccine

Columbia County resident Sylvia Richards receives her vaccine from a CHS staff member at Oregon Trail Lanes in St. Helens.

Sometimes, when someone doesn’t show up for an appointment, or they didn’t have enough booked, they end up with extra. Now, determined not to waste a single dose, the staff is taking their extra shots to the Oregon Trail Lanes, a bowling alley at 735 S Columbia River Highway in St. Helens, Thursday afternoons at 3 p.m.

“Oregon Trail Lanes is a small local business that is very involved in the community, and we thought it was a nice, centralized location,” CHS Executive Director Sherrie Ford said. “It’s got lots of people shopping nearby, getting gas, that sort of thing, so we have staff running around to the nearby businesses who are shopping and eating at the food carts to come over and get their vaccine.”

Columbia County resident Sylvia Richards received her vaccine at the bowling alley on Thursday, May 6. She said they’d been visiting Habitat for Humanity where her husband volunteers, when one of his co-workers asked if they’d been vaccinated yet. When they said no, they were directed to stop by Oregon Trail Lanes that afternoon.

“I wasn’t concerned about the shot; it’s just been a matter of trying to find the time to set an appointment up because our schedules don’t coincide," Richards said. This was very convenient."

Richards works in home-care around the elderly, and her husband works with the public at Home Depot. She said they wanted to get their vaccine because they like to travel, often spontaneously, and they wanted to feel safe when they left on holiday.

“It was very easy," Richards said. "We just walked up and they gave us the form to fill out – it’s really easy and self-explanatory. Then we went and had our shot. I get the flu shot every year because I’m a Type 2 diabetic and it felt just like that. The longest part of it is waiting to make sure you don’t have a reaction. So far, I feel fine!”

When CHS has extra doses, which may not happen every week, Ford said her staff plans to take them to Oregon Trail Lanes every Thursday around 3 p.m. When CHS has extra doses, which may not happen every week, Ford said her staff plans to take them to Oregon Trail Lanes on Thursdays for the foreseeable future.

So, if you’re in the area and you see a CHS staff member come up to you and ask if you want a vaccine, “It’s really happening,” Ford said. “This is your lucky day.”

Columbia Health Services may be reached at 503-397-4651. Oregon Tail Lanes may be reached at 503-397-1011.

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