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700-plus C.O. school staff offered vaccinations; OHA lays out initial priorities

Who gets vaccines graphic OHA 111

Also: C.O. school officials write to state vaccine advisory panel

SALEM, Ore. (KTVZ) -- More than 700 Central Oregon school staff members, including 430 in the Bend-La Pine Schools, will be offered COVID-19 vaccinations, starting this week, officials said Monday, as the Oregon Health Authority answered some frequently asked questions about the initial vaccine priorities.

First, here's the OHA's information:

Many people in Oregon are wondering when they will be able to get their vaccines, and how they will know when it’s their turn. It can be frustrating to wait, but right now, people in Phase 1a are being vaccinated. We will share new information as it becomes available. In the meantime, here are answers to some frequently asked questions: 

I am in a Phase 1a group, where do I go?  

We don’t have a central phone number yet, but Oregon Health Authority (OHA) is working with local public health, health care partners and 211 to determine the best contacts in each community. We will post the community contacts on our COVID-19 website as soon as we have them. Check your local public health website to see if they have additional information.    

I don’t know if I’m in Phase 1a; how do I check?  

Please check the Oregon COVID-19 Vaccine Sequencing Plan. For additional questions, you can email COVID19.vaccine@dshoha.state.or.us.  

Do I need to show any proof I’m in Phase 1a?  

OHA does not require proof and does not plan to request verification from vaccinating providers. Vaccine providers themselves may require an individual to declare in some way they are in a Phase 1a group.  

I’ve been turned away from getting a vaccine by a COVID-19 vaccine provider. What do I do now?  

If you think you fall under Phase 1a, please contact your local public health department to be connected to a vaccine provider.  

I’m an education worker. When will I get vaccinated? 

Child care, K-12 school and school district staff will be in the first group of Phase 1b, after Phase 1a is complete. Information on where and when to get vaccinated will be provided as soon as it’s available. 

To learn more about the COVID-19 vaccine situation in Oregon, visit our webpage (English or Spanish), which has a breakdown of distribution and other information, including this graphic on vaccine sequencing (English or Spanish). 

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Here's the material prepared by Bend-La Pine Schools and sent to staff members Monday, along with a letter Central Oregon Education leaders sent Friday to the state's Vaccine Advisory Committee:

Greetings, 

As you heard from Sarah Barclay and Brian Hanson last week, we are making good progress toward securing COVID-19 vaccinations for any staff who would like the series.  

Thanks to the work of many over the weekend, we expect our first staff members will be able to receive a COVID-19 vaccine as soon as Wednesday afternoon. We hope this will be the first of many vaccine opportunities in the coming days and weeks for staff members. 

More than 430 Bend-La Pine Schools employees will receive notification on Wednesday and an invitation to schedule their first appointment this week. These staff members, who often work with our most vulnerable students, qualify for early vaccination as part of the 1A sequencing plan because they work with students in Life Skills and special education classrooms, they drive buses for our students being served in special programs, and they provide critical medical care to our students and staff. 

Thank you to everyone who is working behind the scenes help to make this opportunity a reality for our staff and to bring a shot of hope to our families and employees. Our greatest gratitude to the volunteers in the Deschutes County COVID-19 Incident Management Team who have been working days, nights, and weekends to get us here today – thank you!

ABOUT BEND-LA PINE SCHOOLS COVID-19 VACCINE PLAN

 Are Bend-La Pine Schools staff member required to receive the COVID-19 vaccine?

No. The vaccine is optional. 

When are Bend-La Pine Schools employees likely to receive first doses?

The OHA is recommending that we prioritize educators and caregivers who fall into OHA’s Phase 1A of Oregon’s Phase 1a Vaccine Sequencing Plan. These positions include, but are not limited to:

PT/OT and other hands-on educational caregivers to high needs student, page 9 of state plan.

Behavior Teacher
Behavior EA
Life Skills Teacher
Life Skills EA
ERC/SRC Teacher
ERC/SRC EA
Speech Pathologist
Traumatic Brain Injury Consultant 
Educators of the Visually Impaired 
Educators of the Deaf and Hard of Hearing 
Sign Language Interpreters
Transition Network Facilitator 

Physical Therapists 

Occupational Therapists 

Autism Specialists

Migrant Education Home Visitor

Migrant Community Liaison

Early Childhood Specialists & EI/ECSE Specialists 

Early Childhood Teacher (Special Programs)

Early Childhood EAs (Special Programs)

Early Intervention/Early Childhood Special Education Screening Intake Specialist 
ELL Specialists
Latino Family Liaisons

High needs/hands on Special Education transportation, page 8 of state plan.
Special Education Drivers
Special Education Bus Monitors

School nurses, school-based health care center HCP and student health center HCP, page 9 of state plan.
School Nurse – LPN/CAN/Nurse/RN

When will vaccinations begin?
The first round of vaccines will take place from Wednesday, January 13 through Sunday, January 17. More than 700 educators in the region will be invited to schedule a vaccine, starting today.

How will I know when it’s my turn to receive the vaccine?

Information about those eligible to receive the first round of vaccines is being input into the system today. The process takes about 48-hours. Starting Wednesday afternoon, those school employees who are eligible to receive the vaccine will be notified via email with a request to schedule. After receiving the invitation, employees will be asked to sign up for/into MyChart to schedule a 15-minute vaccine appointment between Wednesday evening and Sunday evening (Jan. 13-17). Once appointments are scheduled, staff will receive additional information to read prior to receiving the vaccine.(This first round of vaccinations will take place in Bend at St. Charles Medical Center. Please use the Heart and Lung entrance.)

This notification will come to staff members via their official school email account. If you think you may have missed the message, please check your SPAM or OTHER folders.

How is the vaccine being rolled out to all education employees?

Using guidance provided by the Oregon Health Authority, the vaccine is anticipated to be distributed in three waves:

1.    Those who qualify for round one, noted above;

2.    Those who are identified as education employees in Phase 1B;

- Currently Deschutes County needs the state to give approval to start 1B. Educators are at the top of 1B list

- Currently, phase 1B is anticipated to begin in February, if not sooner, if vaccine supplies permit;

3.    The general public.

It is important to remember that our partners will make the vaccine available to every education employee who wants it, and that these three waves may occur within just days or weeks of one another. The timing will all depend on the availability of the vaccine. 

We are advocating the Oregon COVID-19 Vaccine Advisory Committee (see letter below) to make vaccines available to our teams as soon as possible, during 1A. We believe it is prudent to allow education personnel to begin being vaccinated simultaneously with medical and emergency services professionals, after the majority of qualified pool of Phases 1A recipients has been completed (upon approval from county Incident Management Teams). 

Do I need to take leave, if I schedule my vaccine during my workday? 

No. We want to make this is as easy as possible for those who want the vaccine. Please do your best to select a time that does not create an undue impact on your students or coworkers and coordinate with your supervisor. 

Will my family members be able to get the vaccine at the same time I do?

At this time, the vaccination campaign is limited to eligible education employees. 

How will the initial quantity of vaccines received affect our plans to vaccinate our workforce?

Deschutes County’s Vaccine Team is preparing to distribute the vaccine it receives in a timely fashion and will devote available resources to maximize the expediency of vaccination to those who consent. The potentially unpredictable supply chain may require us to be flexible in how we schedule administration. 

If I decline vaccination, will it impact my ability to work in my current position? 

Choosing to decline the vaccine is not expected to impact your ability to continue working in your current position. It is important to note that the vaccine is just one layer of protection against the transmission of COVID-19. Vaccination does not change the need to be diligent with and proper use of personal protective equipment, distancing, and hygiene.

Will I still be required to wear PPE if I get the vaccine?

Yes. As noted earlier, the vaccine is one layer of protection against transmission of COVID-19. 

What about outside of work—should I still wear a mask and physically distance from others?

Yes. While experts learn more about the protection that COVID-19 vaccines provide under real-life conditions, it will be important for everyone to continue using all the tools available to help stop this pandemic, like covering your mouth and nose with a mask, frequent hand washing and staying at least six feet away from others. Together, COVID-19 vaccination and following the CDC's recommendations for how to protect yourself and others will offer the best protection from getting and spreading COVID-19. 

If I am prioritized for the vaccine and don’t get it now, can I still get it later?

Yes. You will be placed back into the prioritization process based on your job’s prioritization group.

ABOUT THE VACCINE

Who should get the COVID-19 vaccine?

The COVID-19 vaccines are being made available in phases to assure the highest benefit to the community. Phase 1a will focus primarily on frontline health care workers, long-term care facilities and other emergency responders who are at high risk of infection by COVID-19. This will safeguard the health care system and focus the initial efforts on those who most need the vaccine. This initial phase will expand to include other essential workers and people at very high risk for hospitalization or death from COVID-19. It is anticipated that supplies of the vaccines could be sufficient to provide to the general population in the late spring or early summer of 2021. 

Will there be enough vaccines for everyone?

There was a limited supply of COVID-19 vaccines before the end of 2020, but the vaccine supply is expected to increase gradually throughout the first half of 2021. The goal is for everyone to be able to easily get a COVID-19 vaccine as soon as quantities are available. 

How much does the vaccine cost?

The vaccine is being offered to Bend-La Pine Schools employees at no cost.

How many doses of the vaccine are needed?

Most of the COVID-19 vaccines currently in phase three clinical trials in the United States require two doses to be effective. Doses will be administered about three to four weeks apart. Dose spacing varies depending on which version of the vaccine is being used. There is one vaccine currently in testing that requires only one injection. 

How long after receiving the vaccine will I develop immunity and how long is the COVID-19 vaccine effective?

Based upon the information we currently have; immunity will develop within weeks of receiving the second dose of the vaccine. We will not know how long immunity lasts until vaccine recipients are followed over longer periods of time. This will also help determine whether further booster doses are required. Studies to further explore this and the duration of the immunity are ongoing. 

If I get the vaccine, will I test positive for COVID-19? 

No, you will not test positive for COVID-19, but you will test positive for the antibodies. 

Can I get COVID-19 from the vaccines?

No, the vaccines cannot give someone COVID-19.

Once vaccinated, is it possible for someone to still be a carrier?

This is unknown, although the likelihood of carrying the disease to others is significantly reduced if a person is not actively infected. Until studies provide more information, persons who have been vaccinated should still follow protocols to reduce the possibility of transmission.

Can those who are pregnant or trying to become pregnant get the vaccine?

Those who are pregnant or are trying to become pregnant as well as those who are breastfeeding were not included in vaccine trials and the risk to the baby is unknown. More information is forthcoming from FDA and WCIP review. 

What is herd immunity? What percentage of the population needs to be vaccinated to have herd immunity for COVID-19?

Herd immunity or community immunity is a term to describe when enough individuals have protection—either from previous infection or vaccination—that there are so few susceptible people in a community that it is unlikely a virus or bacteria can continue to spread widely and infect others. As a result, everyone within the community is protected even if some people do not have any protection themselves. The percentage of people who need to have protection in order to achieve herd immunity varies by disease. At this time, experts do not know what percentage of people would need to be vaccinated to achieve herd immunity to COVID-19, but current estimates are that at least 75% of people within a community will need to have immunity to begin controlling the pandemic. 

What are the most common immune responses to the vaccine?

Mild or moderate immune responses to the vaccine can include, but may not be limited to, fatigue, nausea, muscle pain, chills, joint pain and headache. These immune responses, which are more common after the second dose of the vaccine, are a sign that your immune system is doing exactly what it is supposed to do— building up protection to the virus.

How do I know whether I am having an immune response to the vaccine or if I have COVID-19?

As mentioned above, possible immune responses to the vaccine include fatigue, nausea, muscle pain, chills, joint pain and headache, and usually happen with a few days of getting the vaccine. If you are experiencing other symptoms that are not consistent with an immune response--such as coughing and shortness of breath—and/or these symptoms occur outside of the window when you might expect an immune response, you may have COVID-19 (or something else.)

If I experience an immune response, how should I report that?

CDC is making an app available that we encourage caregivers and providers to download and use to report any immune responses to the vaccine. Reporting this information will continue to contribute to our understanding of the vaccine.

What are the long-term effects of the vaccine?

The long-term effects of the vaccine are unknown, including how long it provides immunity. Patients in vaccine studies will continue to be monitored by the FDA and the CDC for 24 months to allow researchers to learn more about these impacts. If a safety issue is detected, immediate action will take place to determine whether the issue is related to the COVID-19 vaccine and what the best course of action may be.

What are the risks of the vaccine?

Based upon information currently known, the risk of this vaccine causing serious harm or death is small, but possible. This vaccine, like any medicine or vaccine, could cause a serious problem such as an allergic reaction. The COVID-19 vaccines are new, and some effects may not yet be known. 

If I already have COVID-19 and recovered, do I still need to get vaccinated? How long does natural immunity last?

There is not enough information to say if or for how long after infection someone is protected from getting COVID-19 again. Some people have been infected more than once, especially if their initial infection was mild. Given these unknowns, we do recommend that caregivers and providers be vaccinated even if they have previously been diagnosed with COVID-19.

How can I learn more?

Be sure to carefully review any materials provided to you when you are notified that you are eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccine before you schedule your vaccine.

Additionally, you can review one of these online resources:


MESSAGE TO OREGON COVID-19 VACCINE ADVISORY COMMITTEE

Subject: An Extraordinary Opportunity 

January 8, 2021

Greetings, esteemed Oregon COVID-19 Vaccine Advisory Committee members.

On behalf of Deschutes County’s more than 4,000 education professionals and 30,000 students, we thank you for your service to the citizens of Oregon, through your work with the state’s COVID-19 Vaccine Advisory Committee. The work you will do in the weeks to come will have an extraordinary and positive impact on the future of Oregon’s economic recovery and the education of more than 580,000 school children.

The press release you shared yesterday, announcing vaccine plans for education employees, gave great hope to our staff, students and families. We are all working hard to prepare for the upcoming days when all students will phase into in-person instruction inside of their schools. The idea that education professionals could follow medical and emergency services professionals in the Phase 1A vaccine group gave a sigh of relief and joy to our region:

“Educators and other staff at PK-12 schools and early learning centers will follow the Phase 1A group, which includes: health care workers, residents and staff at long-term care facilities and first responders, in the state’s most immediate prioritization order. The vaccine advisory committee is considering how to prioritize critical workers, such as transportation workers and grocery store workers, older adults, people with underlying conditions and other factors.” – excerpt from Jan. 7, 2021 press release

Unfortunately, this excitement was short lived – as just hours ago, during the Governor’s press conference, we learned that education was moved to Phase 1B.

We are reaching out today to ask you to lean in and create an opportunity that allows county Incident Management Teams to return school and district personnel to Phase 1A, as your press release suggested.

We believe that you can easily make this a reality by:

·        Formally moving all Oregon educators to Phase 1A on, or before, your January 14 meeting; or

·       changing language to allow education personnel to begin being vaccinated simultaneously with medical and emergency services professionals, after the majority of qualified pool of Phases 1A recipients has been completed, upon approval from county Incident Management Teams; or 

·       providing a county-by-county waiver that allows education personnel to begin being vaccinated simultaneously with medical and emergency services professionals after the majority of qualified pool of Phases 1A recipients has been completed, upon approval from their Incident Management Team.

We thank the state’s leaders at OHA for their efforts to increase vaccine supplies and commend our county for accepting the thousands of additional units that it will take to complete community vaccination as soon as early summer. With your support, we can continue to make great strides in our state’s efforts to restore hope, prosperity and health here in Oregon.

Aileen Duldulao, Cherity Bloom-Miller, Christine Sanders, Daysi Bedolla Sotelo, Debra Whitefoot, Debra Whitefoot, DeLeesa Meashintubby, Derick Du Vivier, Dolores Martinez, George Conway, Kalani Raphael, Kelly Gonzales, Kristin Milligan, Laurie Skokan, Laurie Skokan, Leslie Sutton, Maleka Taylor, Maria Loredo, Marin Arreola, Muriel DeLaVergne-Brown, Musse Olol, Nannette Carter-Jafri, Ruth Gulyas, Safina Koreishi, Safina Koreishi, Shawn Baird, Sue Steward, Tsering Sherpa, and Zhenya Abbruzzese – we see you, we hear you, and we have exceptional appreciation for the work you are doing.

We ask that you reply to this message and provide your thoughts for next steps, by Monday, January 11. 

Thank you.

Sincerely, 

Dr. Lora Nordquist
Superintendent
Bend-La Pine Schools

Dr. Charan Cline
Superintendent
Redmond School District

Dr. Paul Andrews
Superintendent
High Desert ESD

Curtiss School
Superintendent
Sisters School District

Julie Amberg
Head of School
Cascades Academy

Jodie Borgia
Head of School
Desert Sky

Dr. Sam Adams
Head of School
Seven Peaks School

Elisa Carlson
Head of School
Central Christian School

Dr. Laurie Chesley
President
COCC

Gregg Pinic
Exec. Director/Head of Schools
Trinity Lutheran School

Jennifer Neil
Principal
Three Sisters Adventist Christian

Healther Chatem
Executive Director
Samara Learning

Nathaniel Brocious
School Director
Waldorf School of Bend

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Comments

10 Comments

  1. So happy that all the young, brave and healthy teachers cried their way to the front of the line. Just in front of the vulnerable. Cheers teacher babies! What a pathetic bunch you are.

    1. You insulted my wife, my best friend’s wife, my cousin’s wife and all my brother’s wives! all are hard working teachers being forced to go back into their classrooms and most are 50 and older. They should all be fine, but to make such an asinine comment that they should not be getting vaccinated is just “Mean”

    2. 50 and older? Wow that is really a scary place to be for teachers as most have retired to a 12 month summer (vs that crappy 90 day summer) As for the rest of us….we just get up and go to work. Sorry to all the women in your life for calling them out for living in fear. I need a latté. My 1960’s 5th grade teacher at Pilot Butte Elementary, Ms Smith, would be so proud of me. Remember she’s the one who flunked me.

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