PORTLAND, Ore. — Health experts are encouraging everyone eligible to get their booster shots sooner rather than later. In the United States, everyone 16 years and older who have received their original vaccines no sooner than six months prior are eligible for their booster shots.
With the omicron COVID-19 variant reaching the U.S., the availability of appointments in the very near future is shrinking. Health officials in Oregon and Washington urge people to be patient.
“I would recommend not giving up and continuing to try and make an appointment because I think whether you get the booster today or next week, it's important that you get it as soon as possible,” said Clark County Health Director Dr. Alan Melnick.
It's important to note that the lack of availability in appointments thus far has not been linked to a lack of vaccine but to the increase in the number of people trying to get a booster or third dose all at once and in some cases, to staffing shortages at some Oregon pharmacies. In an effort to combat that, the Oregon Health Authority is offering to pay temporary pharmacists in order to bolster workforces, said Rudy Owens, a public affairs specialist for the Oregon Health Authority.
There are several avenues you can check to make a booster appointment:
Check the state's website
In Oregon and Washington, there are vaccine locator tools.
Oregon Health Authority is opening a number of mass vaccine sites in December across Oregon. You can find details about that here.
You can also call 833.VAX.HELP or text your zipcode to 438829 (GETVAX). Both of these tools will bring up a list of commercial pharmacies providing booster appointments.
Check directly with pharmacies
Using the vaccination locator tool for your state is a good way to check locations near you but local commercial pharmacies have information on their websites to make appointments, as well.
Some pharmacies offer walk-in appointments. Some health care organizations recommend calling pharmacies first for details.
Oregon mass vaccination sites
There are several high-volume vaccination sites run by OHA running at various dates and times. High-volume sites will be closed for the holidays Dec. 23 through 26 and Dec. 31 through Jan. 1.
All three vaccines, booster and kid-size doses are available. It is walk-in and drive-in only and there is no appointment needed. You do not need proof of insurance and the vaccines will be given at no cost to you.
Check for community-organized vaccine clinics
Checking with your county’s website is also a good idea. Some individual counties are holding their own clinics that you may be able to get an appointment at. There are also community organizations holding vaccine clinics:
The Rosewood Initiative in Southeast Portland holds a vaccine clinic every Saturday from 11 a.m. – 6 p.m. No ID, insurance, or appointment needed. It has access to all three vaccines, including child-size doses. It has both boosters and third doses (third doses are recommended for those who are immunocompromised 28 days after full vaccination.)
Multnomah County holds vaccination clinics two times a week. You do not need an appointment, ID, proof of eligibility or insurance.
Friday clinic: IRCO Mid-County located at 10301 NE Glisan Street in Portland from 11 a.m.-4 p.m. There are kid doses for 5-11-year-olds by appointment only.
Saturday clinic: Latino Network - Rockwood @ Boys and Girls Club located at 454 SE 165th Avenue in Portland from 9 a.m.-4:30 p.m. This clinic is for those 12 and up looking to get a first, second or booster dose.
There are also a handful of vaccination clinics organized by OHA. For dates and details check out Multnomah County's website here.
Vaccines for children
If you’re looking for a vaccine for a child 5-11, OHSU is offering appointments. You can visit this website or call 833-647-8222 for help in English and 503-437-9074 for help in Spanish. You can also check with your local healthcare provider and commercial pharmacies.
Multnomah County also has children specific clinics:
Wednesday clinic: Gateway WIC Clinic located at 131 NE 102nd Ave, Building 1 in Portland from 11 a.m.-2 p.m. and 3 p.m.-6 p.m.
Saturday clinic: Northeast WIC Clinic located at 5329 NE Martin Luther King Jr Boulevard in Portland from 9 a.m.-12 p.m. and 1 p.m.-4 p.m.