Health experts say doctors could help fight a COVID-19 vaccination slow-down in Oklahoma.
Stillwater-based family medicine Dr. Mary Clarke said many of her patients have said they are comfortable getting vaccinated at her office but not at mass vaccination sites. There are more than 1,700 pandemic providers like physicians signed up to administer COVID vaccines.
"It has not been particularly common that the physician offices have been the route to give this. Not because we don’t want to, but because of the requirements and the storage ability and the documentation. It does take extra manpower to be able to do that," Clarke said last week during a virtual briefing from the Healthier Oklahoma coalition.
Clarke said physicians, especially those in rural areas, could be best off giving the Johnson & Johnson vaccine. It can be stored in a standard refrigerator, and a single dose means less documentation for offices and a single trip for patients.
Oklahoma followed federal regulators’ advice to pause administration of the Johnson & Johnsons vaccine while they investigated reports of rare but serious blood clots. That review confirmed the vaccine is safe for use.
The state’s vaccination rate has slowed in recent weeks, and only about one in three residents are fully vaccinated. Infectious disease specialist Dr. David Chansolme said a continued plateau in vaccinations creates favorable conditions for the coronavirus to mutate.
"The No. 1 way to prevent variant formation is to decrease the burden of disease, and the only way to do that right now is either by locking back down, which I don’t think is likely and I don’t think is necessary, because we can all go out and get our vaccinations," Chansolme said.
Chansolme said the Dallas area is seeing concerning spread of the P.1 variant that originated in Brazil, a situation that could easily make its way to Oklahoma.