Umatilla County expanding COVID-19 vaccination eligibility

Registered nurse Alisha Lundgren, nurse supervisor with Umatilla County Public Health takes information during a drive-thu event at the Milton Seventh-Day Adventist Church in Milton-Freewater Thursday, March 11, 2021.

“This was not expected, but it is very welcomed.”

Those were Umatilla County Public Health director Joseph Fiumara’s words on Wednesday, March 31, when he announced his department will immediately begin vaccinating residents in Oregon’s Phase 1b, group No. 7 vaccination program for COVID-19.

Umatilla County is one of 20 counties approved by Oregon Health Authority to begin right away to vaccinate people in this newest group, ahead of the original April 5 date.

That will include workers in health, grocery, retail, higher education, mail delivery, garden centers, public transit, manufacturing, commercial transportation, construction, utilities and more.

The category continues to cover those living in households with three or more generations and people ages 16 to 44 with one or more underlying health conditions that increase risk.

Fiumara said mass vaccination events in Pendleton on Thursday, April 1, Friday, April 2, in Milton-Freewater on Thursday, April 8, and again in Pendleton on Friday, April 9 will all accept people from the newly expanded eligibility.

All events begin at 8 a.m. In Milton-Freewater, a drive-thru clinic will be at Milton Seventh-day Adventist Church, 1244 N. Elizabeth St. Appointments can also be scheduled at Safeway, 455 N. Columbia St.

More than 1.8 million doses of COVID-19 vaccine have been administered throughout Oregon, according to OHA.

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Sheila Hagar can be reached at sheilahagar@wwub.com or 526-8322.

Sheila Hagar has written for the Walla Walla Union-Bulletin since 1998. Sheila covers health, social services and city government in Milton-Freewater, Athena and Weston in the Walla Walla Valley.