ONTARIO, Oregon — The Malheur County Health Department is taking steps to make it as easy as possible for people to take advantage of free COVID-19 shots.
On Tuesday, drivers rolled into the Malheur County Fairgrounds to get tested for COVID or vaccinated against the virus in Ontario.
The health department set up the site in late August, aiming to improve vaccination rates. Malheur County ranks second to last out of Oregon counties. State data shows the county has just 44 percent of its 18+ population vaccinated.
“We are doing our best. We are trying to get people vaccinated. We try to ensure people the vaccines are tested they are safe, effective, and they prevent illness and death," said Angie Sillonis, Public Information Officer for the Malheur County Health Department.
The Oregon Health Authority administers the COVID-19 vaccine while the health department offers rapid COVID testing. They originally planned to wrap up the drive-thru option last week but decided to extend it through the rest of October.
“Initially, it was four weeks, and then we decided to go ahead and extended during the surge. In particular, we need to get a lot of people tested and as many people vaccinated as we can," Sillonis said.
The health department is also looking to offer the Pfizer booster shot at the site. To be eligible, you will need to have gotten the second dose of the Pfizer shot at least six months ago and be 65 years of age or older. Those 18 and up can get a booster if they have an extreme risk of transmission due to their work.
“The Oregon Health Authority is doing our vaccines and they don’t have the forms for the booster dose so we hoped to offer the booster dose next week.”
The health department says the vaccine and testing are free. It is open to the community every Tuesday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. until October 26 at the fairgrounds in Ontario.
OREGON GOV. BROW GIVES AN UPDATE ON PFIZER BOOSTER SHOT
On Tuesday, Gov. Kate Brown held a conference to discussed the state’s plan on administering the booster shots.
"The good news is that, while we still have a long way to go, it appears things are slowly getting better," said Governor Brown. "And every day there is renewed hope as we see more people getting vaccinated, progress on vaccines for our 5-11-year-olds, and now, the beginning of boosters for some of our most vulnerable.
"Everyone eligible for a booster will get one. For those who have received the Moderna or Johnson & Johnson vaccine, I ask for your patience as we wait for further data and guidance from the federal government. For those who received the Pfizer vaccine but are not yet eligible for a booster, please know that you are still well protected from COVID-19. Boosters offer an extra layer of protection — and that is important for individuals at higher risk of exposure or illness — but you are still fully vaccinated with the two doses."