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State Senate Health Committee Chair Expresses Concern Over COVID-19 Vaccine Distribution Plan

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The chairman of the Oklahoma State Senate's health and human services committee expressed concern Wednesday over the state's readiness to handle distribution of a COVID-19 vaccine when it becomes available.

"We're ramping up, the department of health is ramping up, to do that distribution, but it will be a logistical nightmare, and I worry that we're not ready for just the deep-down logistics," said Sen. Greg McCortney (R-Ada) on a weekly COVID-19 update organized by the OSU Center for Health Sciences' Project ECHO. 

"We know who needs to get it, but how we get it to them, how we know who got it, how we know who didn't get it, it's logistics that the state doesn't usually have to do," McCortney said. "It's going to be a big project, it's going to be a hard project for them, especially considering the workload they've got going on already.

"I wish that I could say we've got this totally handled, and hopefully we will, but it needs to be all hands on deck, and all of their hands are already on the deck somewhere, so that's my great concern right now with the vaccine."

At a press conference Tuesday in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma State Department of Health Commissioner Lance Frye said Oklahoma should receive the first doses of a vaccine in December but that he didn't know a quantity.

McCortney also said a timeline for vaccine rollout was not entirely clear.

"The biggest thing that I've been trying to push on that is, I mean, yes, great news that the vaccine works. We still don't have the safety news, and we don't have a timeline of when that trial really ends," McCortney said. "And then it also, if you read the fine print in there, I think it's 27 days after the first dose before you're actually protected.

"So, best case scenario, we have a vaccine at the start of the year, and I worry that people are really excited right now, and are going to -- well, I was going to say, you know, stop protecting themselves, but it's pretty clear from all of the numbers that we haven't been doing that, either."

McCortney wrote on Twitter after the call that he did not know there were journalists present and was speaking “off the cuff.”

 

In August, Public Radio Tulsa requested comment from McCortney's office regarding remarks he made during a Project ECHO call that month about a visit to Oklahoma by Dr. Deborah Birx of the White House coronavirus task force, but got no response. His remarks from the call were included in the published story.

 

McCortney also tweeted Wednesday that he misspoke when he said the period between the first dose of a vaccine and when it takes effect is 27 days. He meant to say 28 days, he tweeted.

Chris joined Public Radio Tulsa as a news anchor and reporter in April 2020. He’s a graduate of Hunter College and the Craig Newmark Graduate School of Journalism, both at the City University of New York.
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