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Winter Weather Poses Challenges At Southern Oregon Vaccination Events

A COVID-19 vaccination event on Sunday in Grants Pass.
Jason Roberts/Josephine County
A COVID-19 vaccination event on Sunday in Grants Pass.

COVID-19 vaccination efforts in Josephine County were complicated this week because of winter weather bringing snow and rain to Southern Oregon.

Health officials offered mass vaccinations on Sunday and Monday at the Josephine County Fairgrounds in Grants Pass. But snow and rain, and people having to stand in line, resulted in lower numbers than public health officials had hoped for.

“There’s a lot of mountains in this area and there’s a lot of roads that people are nervous driving on when we start getting icy weather. It’s important that people stay safe and we’re glad that people made the decision if they needed to, to stay home,” said Josephine County Public Health Director Mike Weber.

“We will get them at a time where it’s safe for them to get here,” he said.

Around 2,600 people were vaccinated against COVID-19 at the two-day event in Grants Pass.

A third mass vaccination event is planned for Tuesday at Illinois Valley High School in Cave Junction. But health officials have moved its start time up to 11 AM, anticipating more winter weather and the possibility of closing early.

Phase 1A of Oregon’s vaccine rollout includes individuals who live in nursing homes and long-term care facilities, who may find it harder to stand outside in the elements.

Josephine County Public Health Officer David Candelaria says those vulnerable adults will mostly be served through other efforts, besides the mass public vaccination events.

“Locally we have some providers who are willing to go out to those facilities and make sure that those people get their vaccinations, the residents and the staff,” Candelaria says.

The vaccination events in Josephine County, and earlier in Jackson County, were organized by the Asante hospital system. More than 7,200 people were vaccinated Thursday through Saturday (January 21-23) in Jackson County.

Erik Neumann is JPR's news director. He earned a master's degree from the UC Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism and joined JPR as a reporter in 2019 after working at NPR member station KUER in Salt Lake City.