Health Officials Urge Oklahomans To Get Their COVID Vaccines Amid Significant Slowdown

Apr 23, 2021

Credit Oklahoma State Department of Health

While the state passed the 2.5 million mark this week for COVID vaccinations given, health officials are pleading with Oklahomans who haven’t been vaccinated to step up.

Deputy State Health Commissioner Keith Reed said progress has noticeably slowed.

"We’ve seen a significant drop in the last week or so, around a 40% decrease in the numbers that are getting vaccinated," Reed said.

The state has around 500,000 total doses of Pfizer and Moderna vaccines on hand right now.

"There’s enough supply that everyone should be able to get vaccinated if they wanted to within a matter of days. Getting the vaccine as soon as possible means that you can get back to your normal life," said State Health Commissioner Dr. Lance Frye. "We can get our summer back, and we can safely attend events such as graduations — your child or your grandchild’s graduation — host family and friends for Memorial Day, or go enjoy a well-deserved vacation."

Fewer than one in three Oklahoma adults is fully vaccinated at this point. Reed said adults 20 to 40 years old remain less likely to get vaccinated than their elders.

"And I know there’s less concern among that group because there’s the perception that COVID is not as much of a risk to them, but I would urge them to understand they’re such an important part of breaking the transmission of COVID," Reed said.

Frye said cases in the state are likely low right now because of a fast start to vaccination and natural immunity after a winter surge in infections.

"We need to keep them down. We realize that summer’s coming, and then people are going to be back in school and businesses have continued to keep moving forward and ramp up. And other parts of the world and other parts of the United States are seeing increases in cases, and we don’t want that to happen here," Frye said.

Deputy State Epidemiologist Joli Stone said coronavirus variants have a growing presence in Oklahoma, but vaccines are proving effective against them. The state has seen 137 breakthrough infections, where a vaccinated person gets COVID-19. That translates to 0.01% of Oklahomans getting COVID-19 after vaccination. Nine of those people ended up in the hospital.

Breakthrough infections account for 0.03% of Oklahoma's total reported cases of COVID-19.

Oklahoma has not refused allocations of vaccine because of low demand as other states have recently, but officials here have asked for shipments to be held back to keep supply from overwhelming providers.