Letter to OHA - Vaccine Allocation

2.8.21 - Patrick Allen, OHA Director - letter of response to Lincoln County in supporting documents below. 

Letter (in supporting documents below) from the Lincoln County Multi-Agency Coordinating (MAC) Group and the Lincoln County Board of Commissioners in regard to vaccine allocation to rural counties. 

February 1, 2021

Patrick Allen OHA Director
Greetings Director Allen,

The Lincoln County Multi-Agency Coordinating (MAC) Group would like to urge you to take a more equitable approach to allocating vaccines to rural counties, especially during this critical time when supplies are unstable and cannot meet the demands. The Lincoln County Board of Commissioners joins with the MAC in this request.

We hope you have taken note of the exceptional performance Lincoln County has strived to achieve during this past year of responding to the pandemic. We feel this speaks to the excellent collaboration our county partners exhibit. We feel strongly that our efforts to protect our community should not be met with the shocking reality of getting zero prime doses allotted to us for this week. For once we feel that rural counties may have an advantage over metro counties in that we can get our population vaccinated timely. For us, being a rural and tourist community, it is critical to get our aging population and essential workers protected quickly. We had one of the largest outbreaks in the State this summer. We are constantly exposed to people who travel, many from States that don't even have a mask policy. We are the least able to respond to these challenges as we are chronically under-staffed and under- funded.

The fact that we cannot give prime doses to anyone in our community this week because you want the metro areas to "catch up" is a one-size-fits-all approach that will not work. Our community started planning for vaccine distribution back in November 2020. The result was that we could stand up many small clinics initially and later a 3-day mass clinic that nearly completed our phase 1a which included our educators. Because we cannot risk wasting even one dose we needed to open our mass clinic to more people to assure we could utilize all the doses our partners pooled together to get the job done. We are in an all-for-one, one-for-all mindset. We do not want to risk losing that momentum which we feel is threatened when we do not get any doses for a whole week.

We can't stress enough that local control, in collaboration with state agencies and leadership, leads to the productive progress we need to tackle the ongoing challenges our rural community is facing.

We appreciate you rethinking this strategy and at least send us a minimum amount so as not to lose momentum and to keep morale up. These are challenging times for all us and we believe that our hard work and focus on protecting our community should be rewarded.

Thank you for your consideration,

The Lincoln County Board of Commissioners and The Lincoln County Multi-Agency Collaboration Group