Metro counties partner with health systems to ensure Phase 1A workers have access to COVID-19 vaccine

For Immediate Release: Tuesday, January 12, 2021

Sponsored by: Health and Human Services Department, Public Health Division

Joint press release issued by Washington, Multnomah, Clackamas and Columbia counties

Metro-area counties and major health systems announced a new effort today to vaccinate all area health care providers and employees eligible for the state’s Phase 1A vaccine, including solo practitioners and those unaffiliated with a hospital.

Washington, Multnomah, Clackamas and Columbia counties have joined with the Metro region’s large hospital systems including Kaiser Permanente, Legacy Health, Oregon Health & Science University and Providence Health & Services, as well as Health Share of Oregon and CareOregon, to increase access for everyone in the state’s Phase 1A priority group.

To speed this process, county public health departments are matching health care providers and employers with hospital systems that have agreed to provide these vaccinations. Public health officials are asking each employer to identify one person to fill out a short survey with the name of their organization, the health care sector they work in, the number of employees who need vaccination, and a point of contact. Solo practitioners should fill out the survey themselves. 

Within a week, public health will notify providers and employers about their eligibility and match them with a hospital system. The hospital system will then notify the provider or employer about where they can go to receive the vaccine. 

“We have been getting calls and emails from health care workers in our counties who are not affiliated with a hospital system and have been unable to get the COVID-19 vaccine. These workers sacrifice so much to take care of our community’s most vulnerable residents, and I’m excited that this partnership will help them access the vaccine,” said Tricia Mortell, Washington County Public Health Manager. 

"We are all coordinating to get this group vaccinated quickly and methodically so that we can be ready as soon as possible to turn our focus toward the members of our community who are most vulnerable to severe disease,'' said Kim Toevs, Director of Multnomah County's Communicable Disease Program. 

Philip Mason Joyner, Clackamas County Public Health Director, said “we appreciate the patience and dedication of our health care workers in the region. We are thankful for the partnership with the hospital systems to ensure our health care workers receive their vaccine as soon as possible in an equitable manner.” 

Here is an example of how the system will work:

  1. A dental, optometrist or mental health office assigns one person to fill out the survey for their entire organization. A solo mental health or alternative medicine practitioner would fill out the survey themselves.
  2. Public health will validate that the organization or solo provider is eligible for the vaccine and then match them with a health care system.
  3. The healthcare system will then notify the applicant about how to access the vaccine. 

“It’s essential that we all work together to get the vaccine to as many people as possible as quickly as we can,” said Becky Hultberg, President and CEO of the Oregon Association of Hospitals & Health Systems. “Our Metro-area hospitals are stepping up to help coordinate this critical community health effort to make sure we are efficiently identifying the people in the highest priority groups.” 
 

Media Contact:

Mary Sawyers, Public Health Communications Coordinator
503-726-6459
mary_sawyers@co.washington.or.us