Got your shot? Congrats—you qualify for a discount on pot. Or a free Jell-O shot!
In West Virginia, to lure the young, restless, and COVID vaccine-resistant (or even just those who haven’t gotten around to making their appointment), the Republican governor has a pretty sweet perk on offer: cold, hard cash.
The state’s offering a $100 savings bond to every resident between the ages of 16 and 35 who gets their shot, available retroactively and projected to cost about $27.5 million.
In the Portland area? Well, no free money as yet—but you can get a discount on weed or a free Jell-O shot, if that helps?
The concept of incentivizing vaccines (beyond the CDC’s announcement this week that if you are among the vaccinated, you can now feel free to walk around outside without your mask on, most of the time), got a big boost nationally back in March when Krispy Kreme jumped on the bandwagon with an offer of a free doughnut every day for a year, with proof of vaccination.
But in Portland proper, the concept has been slower to take off, perhaps because demand for vaccines has been high and space limited, though that could be changing, if Seattle’s example is any indication.
That’s part of why local cannabis chain Kaya Shack launched its “Pot for Shot” program, offering a 10 percent discount to anyone who brings in their vaccine card from now until the end of the pandemic, whenever that might be.
“We hope that even with our small reach, by encouraging and offering discounts to those who have been kind enough to get a vaccine, that we can all take part and help each other get back to enjoying our local restaurants and businesses that have been struggling for too long,” says Bryan Arnold, Kaya Shack’s Vice President of Marketing. “We have had many customers take advantage of the ‘Pot for Shot’ promotion and express their thankfulness for positively recognizing the importance of the COVID vaccine program.”
Looking for even more freebies? Here’s a helpful national list—unfortunately, not too many of these apply in Oregon. We’re not in Lyft’s service area for free rides to vaccine appointments, and there are no White Castles in Oregon, just a sad Change.org petition with 17 signees from eight years ago petitioning the company to open a location here. Maybe it is time to move to West Virginia?
“I got an email from the Oregon Realtors Association and I immediately told my husband,” Granum said. “I was just really excited to have the opportunity.”
Just as excited as Granum are grocery workers. They, too, can get a vaccine two weeks sooner than expected.
“These workers can’t work from home,” said Miles Eshaia of United Food & Commercial Workers Local 555. “They can’t work remotely. They’ve shown up to work everyday throughout all of this since the beginning. Having access to the vaccine if they want it is a really good thing.”
There are dozens upon dozens of front-line workers who will become eligible for a vaccine as soon as the first Monday in April. Those working in food service, finance and the legal profession are included in the group.
“In keeping with Oregon’s commitment to equity, this change gives front-line workers and other [Phase 1B, Group 7] populations more time to get vaccinated,” said Patrick Allen, director of the Oregon Health Authority.
Allen says the state is able to move up the vaccine timeline two weeks early because more and more doses are coming in from the federal government and counties and health providers are making progress vaccinating seniors.
Granum is ready for her shot. She plans to jump online and schedule a vaccine appointment as soon as she is allowed.
“I don’t know if it’s a day my kids get to go to school but if it is, I’ll be on the computer right after they leave.”
As of Monday morning, Oregonians ages 80 and older are now eligible for vaccines against COVID-19, making older residents the newest group to gain access to protection against the coronavirus.
State officials acknowledged last week that the sign-up process for seniors could bring chaos, and that was true early Monday.
The Oregon Health Authority did not make clear when the online system would begin allowing appointment scheduling, prompting frustration among some who stayed up late or woke up early. Some state officials were under the impression scheduling wouldn’t go live until noon. But the site began booking appointments at about 9 a.m. Monday, with the first availability for shots Wednesday at the Oregon Convention Center in Portland.
As older Oregonians begin to make their way to vaccinations sites around the state, here are five important things to know about getting that much-awaited protection against COVID-19.
1. Only seniors 80 and older will be eligible, for now.
Monday marks the first of four phases to vaccinate seniors in Oregon this winter. People ages 75 and older will be eligible in the next phase starting Feb. 15, followed by people 70 and older on Feb. 22, and people 65 and older on March 1.
State officials are asking for patience and ask that only people who are eligible seek appointments in the coming days. The state announced Friday that it would debut a new tool on its covidvaccine.oregon.gov website this week that allows users to sign up to get email alerts or text notifications about vaccine events in their area.
2. Make an appointment online.
Eligible seniors can make an appointment online by going to covidvaccine.oregon.gov. In the center of the page there’s a link that says, “Vaccine Eligibility & FAQ Tool” with a button that says, “Let’s Get Started.” That option prompts a chat service that can help determine if you’re eligible and redirect to an appointment page if so.
The first appointments for seniors should become available online at 9 a.m. Monday, according to Washington County Health and Human Services.
It appears the online system may be the preferred, if not only, means of signing up.
“People who don’t have internet access or a smartphone, may get a family member, friend or neighbor, or reach out to a community or faith group they are part of to register for them,” Multnomah County officials wrote.
If you need assistance by phone, call 2-1-1. Seniors can also send an email to ORCOVID@211info.org, or text the message ORCOVID to the number 898211 to begin a conversation about scheduling an appointment.
3. Don’t expect to get an appointment right away.
Luck may play a role in how quickly you’re able to get an appointment. Some may be able to book one right away, while many others will have to wait several weeks to make an appointment, let alone get vaccinated. Factors will include where you live, how many others around you are eligible at the same time, and how quickly you navigate the online system.
Public health officials have warned that this week could bring “chaos,” as the state still suffers from inadequate vaccine supply to meet the increased demand.
4. Vaccination locations will vary by county, many will take place at mass clinic sites.
Oregon’s most populous counties have set up mass clinics to dole out the vaccines. Two such clinics at the Oregon Convention Center and Portland International Airport will serve many in the Portland metropolitan area, while the Oregon State Fairgrounds will serve those in the Salem area.
Local pharmacies will eventually be able to offer vaccinations in some Oregon counties, including this coming week. Oregon Health Authority Director Patrick Allen said Friday that the state will receive 13,000 doses this week bound for 133 different pharmacies. Further details have not yet been announced.
5. The vaccines are safe and effective, though mild side effects are common.
Trials have shown that both the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines are extremely effective, preventing COVID-19 illness in more than 94% of non-infected people after receiving two doses.
The vaccines are also extremely safe for the vast majority of people who receive them. Side effects are normal after receiving the vaccine, including pain and swelling at the site of the site of the injection, with fever, chills, fatigue and headaches all possible as well. Studies have shown that most people will only have mild or moderate cases, and that severe side effects are rare.
To reduce pain in your arm, apply a clean, cool, wet washcloth at the site of the injection, or exercise your arm, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends. It’s OK to take over-the-counter pain medications to relieve other symptoms, but DO NOT take it before the injection (unless advised by your doctor), as the medication could reduce the effectiveness of the vaccine, the AARP warned Friday.
In essence, a private business can decide who to allow on private property, whether that be an airplane, a sports arena, or a mall. And there’s no legal protection for those who refuse to get vaccinated and want to patronize a private business. (That’s aside from government mandates, which are not addressed here.)
There are really only two exceptions to the rule: people with a documented medical condition that makes them unable to take a vaccine, and those with a sincere religious belief against vaccines, Schwab said.
In either case, the burden is on you to show why you are unable to take the vaccine, Schwab said.
Of course, just because it’s legal to require a vaccine doesn’t mean that businesses will.
Due to the nature of flying, proof of a vaccine might be required sooner than other activities, according to industry experts.
But it’s much harder to police a vaccine mandate at a mall or inside a big-box store, Schwab noted.
There’s talk of a vaccine passport or card that people can carry around as proof. But what if someone says they have a medical disability or a religious exemption?
Sorting out those types of headaches might be more trouble than it’s worth for most retailers, Schwab suggested. Businesses might be more willing – especially at the beginning of the vaccine roll-out – to continue their facemask and social-distancing mandates that have become commonplace to this point.
At the end of the day, though, a customer is there at the permission of a private business.
“You gotta wear a mask to come into a store,” Schwab noted. “I think that’s basically well-accepted. Once they can do that, what’s the difference with a vaccine?”
The first shipments of the long-awaited coronavirus vaccine have arrived in Oregon, although officials don’t expect to begin inoculating any residents Monday.
The shipments of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine were expected to arrive at 10:30 a.m. Monday but instead arrived by about 7 a.m., according to the Oregon Health Authority. A Legacy Health facility in Northeast Portland and Legacy Meridian Park Medical Center in Tualatin received the first two 975-dose shipments.
It’s not immediately clear when the first vaccinations will begin, although an agency spokesperson suggested it may be Wednesday.
Frontline healthcare workers will be the first to start receiving the vaccine, followed by residents of nursing homes beginning next week. They will need a second dose three weeks later in order for the vaccine to offer its full protection. The vaccine is estimated to be about 95% effective.
“In recent weeks, as COVID-19 vaccines reached the final stages of approval, I have said time and again that hope is on the way. Today, I can tell you that help is here,” said Gov. Kate Brown, in a news release. “The first shipments of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine have arrived in Oregon, the first of many that will be distributed across the state.”
“We are in the middle of some of the hardest days of this pandemic,” Brown continued. “Our hospitals are stretched to capacity, and too many families are losing loved ones just as we enter the holiday season. So many Oregonians have suffered and sacrificed in the last ten months. But starting this week, and each week following –– as vaccines become more widely available –– we will begin gaining ground again in our fight against this disease.”
Legacy, the first healthcare group to receive the vaccine, said it had not yet determined when it would start vaccinating people against COVID-19. Legacy has two freezers on hand and expects two additional storage units to arrive Tuesday.
Among other hospitals that will soon receive shipments: Kaiser Permanente, which has two hospitals in the Portland area, will receive 975 doses Tuesday and plans to begin vaccinations Friday at its Sunnyside and Westside Medical Center. The healthcare organization has a freezer in Washington and Oregon to store the vaccines.
Oregon Health & Science University in Portland and Saint Alphonsus Medical Center in Ontario, along the Oregon-Idaho border, also will receive 975 dose shipments Tuesday.
In all, Oregon is expected to receive 35,100 doses this week. More than 24,375 of those doses are going to hospitals and health systems. The other 10,725 doses will go to nursing homes.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention asked Oregon to choose the first sites to receive the vaccine, and the system of distribution is being monitored, according to the Oregon Health Authority.
Across the country on Monday, healthcare workers began receiving immunizations. Among them, a critical care nurse in New York and workers at a medical center in Ohio.
On Sunday, a scientific review panel for Oregon, California, Washington and Nevada reviewed the data on the Pfizer vaccine and determined it was “safe and efficacious.”
Last week, a U.S. panel of scientists reviewed trial data and gave the vaccine its stamp of approval. The federal Food and Drug Administration on Friday granted the vaccine an emergency use authorization for people ages 16 and older. The director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Robert Redfield, said Sunday he recommends the vaccine.
By the end of December, Oregon could receive between a total of 197,500 and 228,400 doses of both Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines, according to the Oregon Health Authority and the governor’s office.
Brown said the state will “work to ensure” groups disproportionately effected by COVID-19 — including Black, Latino and tribal communities — will have “equitable access to vaccination.”
There are more than 4.2 million residents statewide — and estimates of when everyone who wants a vaccine gets one range from summer to fall. It’s unknown precisely when children younger than 16 will get the OK to be inoculated. Scientists say more study is needed before giving the vaccine to younger children.
After healthcare workers and residents of long-term care facility, essential workers will be next in line to get inoculated. But the state has yet to decide who will be defined as an essential worker and what order those workers will be vaccinated in within that group.
After that, people with underlying conditions that put them at high risk of severe complications from COVID-19 and people older than 65 will be given vaccinations.
It will likely be sometime in the spring before the general population’s turn in line comes up.
Patrick Allen, director of the Oregon Health Authority, urged Oregonians to continue to wear masks, avoid gatherings and take other public health safety precautions because vaccinations are still months away for most Oregonians.
“The vaccine is the light at the end of the tunnel, but we will be in this tunnel for several months,” he said in a news release. “We need to keep doing what we’ve been doing to help our friends, neighbors and ourselves stay safe.”