Oregon Governor Appoints Two Doctors to Panel to Review COVID-19 Vaccines for Safety

The move comes as the state expects to have vaccines for thousands of health care workers before the end of the month.

Drive-thru COVID-19 testing clinic at Portland Community College Cascade campus on Dec. 2. (Wesley Lapointe)

Gov. Kate Brown has appointed two doctors to serve on an expert panel led by California to review COVID-19 vaccine safety.

Dr. Laura Byerly , who has served as the medical director of the Virginia Garcia Memorial Health Center since 2013, will serve on the Western states' Scientific Safety Review Workgroup alongside Dr. Louis Picker, an associate director of Oregon Health & Science University's Vaccine and Gene Therapy Institute, where he has worked to develop an HIV vaccine.

Doctors, scientists and health experts from California, Nevada, Oregon and Washington will add another level of review to vaccines approved for emergency use by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. In October, Brown announced that Oregon would join three of its neighboring states in conducting an independent assessment of vaccine safety before distributing it to residents.

The first doses of vaccines from Pfizer and Moderna are expected to arrive in Oregon in two weeks. Those doses will be distributed to doctors and nurses. The general public isn't expected to have access to a vaccine for several more months.

"This workgroup will help ensure that the vaccines Oregonians receive are safe, effective, and equitably available to everyone, especially the communities that have been disproportionately devastated by COVID-19," said Brown in a statement.

Oregon reported another 1,151 cases of COVID-19 on Thursday, 292 of them in Multnomah County. The state's death toll stands at 973.

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