The first three cases of the Omicron variant of the COVID-19 virus were confirmed in Oregon on Monday.
Oregon Health & Science University confirmed that one Multnomah County resident and two Washington County residents had contracted the variant, which is rapidly encircling the globe. All three people who contracted the virus were under the age of 40, and all three were fully vaccinated.
The Omicron variant is believed to be faster spreading and more vaccine resistant than the coronavirus or the Delta variant, and its arrival during the holiday season marks an uncertain new period in the course of a pandemic that has killed 5,420 Oregonians.
Early studies suggest the COVID-19 booster shot provides significant protection against Omicron. Oregon officials today emphasized the importance of getting that third vaccine dose.
“It was only a matter of time before we identified the first case of the Omicron variant in Oregon,” said Gov. Kate Brown in a statement. “As we continue to learn more about this new variant, we know the measures that are most effective in helping to keep ourselves and our families safe from Omicron, Delta, and other COVID-19 variants: get vaccinated, get your booster, and wear a mask.”
So where can you find a booster shot? Most pharmacies and health clinics offer them, although many Portlanders have reported long wait times.
In an implicit acknowledgment that more affluent neighborhoods on Portland’s westside have had an easier time tracking down boosters, most of the large-scale vaccination sites are on the city’s eastern border.
Multnomah County health officials are currently hosting two weekly clinics: one at the Immigrant and Refugee Community Organization (10301 NE Glisan St.) and another at Latino Network offices in Rockwood (454 SE 165th Ave.). The Oregon Health Authority is running a large-scale clinic at Gresham Winter Wonderland (440 NW Burnside Road).
The closest site to Portland’s city center? At Lloyd Center Mall, in the former location of Sears.
All large-scale booster clinics in Multnomah County can be found here.