(Salem, Ore. – May 27, 2021) – Salem Health thanks the National Guard for its service at the vaccine clinic at the Oregon State Fair and Expo Center. More than 90 citizen soldiers have helped amplify the capacity of the state’s first mass vaccination clinic, creating immunity and bringing the pandemic’s end another step closer. The National Guard’s last day at Salem Health’s vaccine clinic will be Saturday, May 29.
“Vaccines mean hope and health, which is our mission. There is a deep pride in bringing those things to our community and it translates to action,” said Cheryl Wolfe, president and CEO, Salem Health. “The National Guard has joined forces with us in this mission, standing shoulder to shoulder with us to help vaccinate Oregonians.”
The National Guard joined the vaccination effort less than a week after Salem Health opened the state’s first mass vaccination clinic in early January. On Friday, Jan. 8, Oregon Governor Kate Brown announced in a press conference that the National Guard was being deployed to the vaccine clinic in Salem. On Jan. 12, 60 U.S. Army citizen-soldiers and U.S. Air Force members reported to the fairgrounds. That number has grown to more than 90 soldiers giving vaccinations and staffing other roles.
In an address on May 20, Wolfe thanked the Guard for the more than 100 days the troops have served at the vaccine clinic. Guard members stood at attention in formation, then formed a half circle surrounding Wolfe to listen to her heartfelt words of appreciation for their support.
Wolfe expressed her gratitude to the troops, calling them a wonderful gift. “Together we have given more than 200,000 vaccinations, thanks to your help. I can’t thank you enough. I don’t know how you say thank you for something like this, for making this possible.”
The National Guard, working side by side with others staffing the vaccine clinic, have helped administer more than 200,000 vaccines. The Guard members have come from all over the state with 11 different Guard units represented. Deployed National Guard members have EMT-level training, and many have experience in the medical field outside of their Guard duties, from dentists to pharmacists to registered nurses.
Following both statewide and nationwide trends, Salem Health has begun to see a decline in demand at the mass vaccination clinic in Salem. The vaccine clinic will continue operations at the fairgrounds, scaling back to a smaller footprint with changes that will facilitate a rapid process while retaining access for those for whom the centrally located Marion County site is the best option. The vaccine clinic is projected to remain open through early June for first doses and late June for second doses, unless demand and community need dictate staying open longer.
About Salem Health Hospitals and Clinics
Salem Health offers exceptional care to people in and around Oregon’s mid-Willamette Valley. It comprises hospitals in Salem and Dallas, a medical group of primary and specialty care providers, plus other affiliated services. Visit us at www.salemhealth.org; “Like” us on www.facebook.com/salemhealth; follow us on Instagram and Twitter: @salemhealth; and view us at www.youtube.com/salemhealth.