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State health department urges Oklahomans to get vaccinated with COVID cases rising and Omicron spreading

A nurse holds a vial containing the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine at a mobile vaccination site.
Paul Hennessy
SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images
A nurse holds a vial containing the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine at a mobile vaccination site.

With COVID-19 cases in the state nearly doubling in the past week and the Omicron variant identified in more than a dozen states, the Oklahoma State Department of Health is once again urging residents to get vaccinated.

Oklahoma's seven-day average of new cases is up to 1,245. It was 679 a week ago, the lowest it had been since a summer surge driven by the Delta variant took the rolling average to more than 2,800 new, reported infections per day.

"We urge Oklahomans to get vaccinated, and for those who are fully vaccinated and eligible, get a booster dose for additional protection as we continue to learn more about the transmissibility of this new variant," Interim State Health Commissioner Keith Reed said in a statement. "Getting vaccinated is the best way to protect yourself and your loved ones against severe illness and hospitalization due to COVID-19."

About 52% of Oklahomans are fully vaccinated, a rate lower than all but nine U.S. states and territories.

Omicron had been identified in at least 17 states as of Monday, but it has not yet been detected in Oklahoma. The variant is potentially spread more easily and better at evading antibodies than the Delta variant, but its potential to cause severe illness is still unknown.

The state public health lab is sequencing all COVID samples it receives. Health officials have not clarified how many samples are being tested. They have asked labs across the state to send at least 10% of their positive PCR test samples for sequencing.

"As the winter holidays approach, we recommend Oklahomans follow the precautions that we know protect against severe illness, including the 3 W’s [washing your hands, watching your distance and wearing a mask] and vaccination. Doing so is a good way to give yourself peace of mind that you can gather and celebrate with loved ones without the risk of contracting a severe case of COVID-19," Reed said.

Matt Trotter joined KWGS as a reporter in 2013. Before coming to Public Radio Tulsa, he was the investigative producer at KJRH. His freelance work has appeared in the Los Angeles Times and on MSNBC and CNN.