FILE — Oregon vaccine

An Oregon nurse draws a vial of a COVID-19 vaccine at the Oregon State Fair and Exposition Center in Salem on January 7, 2021. The site's clinic can administer 250 doses of the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines per hour. Oregon Gov. Kate Brown deployed the National Guard to assist in the vaccine rollout starting January 12.

(The Center Square) – Oregon is tossing COVID-19 vaccines at four times the rate that it was three weeks ago, state health officials reported on Tuesday. 

Since December, 9,090 vaccine doses were wasted, spoiled or expired, the Oregon Health Authority (OHA) reports. That's double what the agency reported for the same period reported last week—4,418—and more than four times the 1,922 vaccine doses reported three weeks ago.

The week of May 4, spoiled doses represented .06% of the approximately 3.1 million shots the OHA reported administering. Since then, the OHA has reported administering 719,665 doses and wasting another 7,168.

The OHA hasn't issued a public statement about why the state has seen such a sharp increase in vaccine waste in recent weeks. The Center Square has reached out to the agency for comment.

"Shipping mishaps, refrigeration fluctuations, breakage and expiration are all ways vaccines might be wasted, though the percentage is extremely low," the OHA website reads. 

OHA reported administering 25,851 new doses, including 15,160 from Monday and the last several days.

Oregon has administered 3,811,840 shots of the two-dose Pfizer and Moderna vaccines plus the one-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine to 2,251,409 Oregonians. About 53% of Oregonians have received at least one dose—well below the national average of 61.6%. Another 42.9% are now fully vaccinated.

On Tuesday, Gov. Kate Brown announced the state's largest county, Multnomah, will be moving to Lower Risk after vaccinating 65% of residents ages 16 and older and submitting a plan to close equity gaps. Benton, Deschutes, Hood River, Lincoln and Washington Counties will join the predominantly urban county on Thursday.

Oregon's vaccine rollout continues to lag behind at least 20 other states to date. Last week, Gov. Kate Brown gave Oregonians until June 28 to take their shot at a million-dollar lottery by getting vaccinated. State officials hope the contest will help the state reach its goal of fully reopening by the end of June.

There are four new COVID-19 related deaths in Oregon, raising the state's death toll to 2,628, the Oregon Health Authority reported at 12:01 a.m. today.

On Tuesday, the OHA reported 424 new cases and four more deaths from the virus, raising the state's total caseload to 199,391 and the statewide death toll to 2,628 people. Another 274 people in the state remain hospitalized with the disease. 

Staff Reporter

Tim Gruver is a politics and public policy reporter. He is a University of Washington alum and the recipient of the 2017 Pioneer News Award for Reporting. His work has appeared in Politico, the Kitsap Daily News, and the Northwest Asian Weekly.