Free Covid testing and vaccinations available at fairgrounds in Ontario

Covid vaccines. (The Enterprise/Liliana Frankel)

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ONTARIO – As Covid ramps up throughout the region, the Malheur County Health Department will once again offer drive-through Covid testing as it did throughout 2020 and early 2021. 

This time, however, the Oregon Health Authority is pitching in, and Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson vaccines will be available.

“It’s private, it’s low barrier, you just literally show up,” said Sarah Poe, health department director. “It’s totally free.” 

Bilingual Spanish/English staff and forms will be on hand.

The testing and vaccine event will happen at Malheur County Fairgrounds from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. beginning Tuesday, Aug. 31, and continue for at least four more Tuesdays after. 

The most recent case rate per 100,000 people in Malheur County is 352, up significantly from just a month ago.

Poe noted that residents of both Malheur and neighboring counties, including in Idaho, could receive tests and vaccines at the site.  

Tests usually take about 15 minutes to give a result, and only those who test positive will be contacted. Vaccinations likewise have a built-in wait time of about 15 minutes after the shot, during which health department staff will monitor for any side effects.  

According to a press release from the health department, “testing is for people of all ages, and vaccinations can be accessed by people age 12 and older.”

Poe said a vaccination is one way to protect the community and move beyond the pandemic. 

“People need to make sure that they have their questions answered and to have a safe space to make those decisions for themselves,” she said. 

Poe encouraged Malheur County residents to call their health care providers sooner rather than later to discuss the possibility of getting the vaccine, and how it fits into their specific health plan.

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