State health officials are dealing with the sudden news extra doses of COVID-19 vaccine are not coming.
The Washington Post reported on Friday there was no reserve of second doses to release as Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar announced would happen this week because the Trump administration had started sending those out in late December. Oklahoma health officials planned to use the additional doses to speed up vaccination efforts because they were counting on a matching second dose coming behind each one the state received.
Deputy State Health Commissioner Keith Reed said he learned of the change from his Operation Warp Speed contact on Thursday.
"I’m not saying that somebody intentionally misrepresented that. Our contacts? That was the impression they had. But I would say when that program changed, we were not informed of [it]," Reed said.
Reed said for the immediate future, it will look like Oklahoma is getting more doses, but the state will have to carefully manage its inventory to ensure it has a sufficient supply of second doses for people who have received their first shot.
"And it’s not just us. We have to push this down, somewhat, to the local level for those that are setting up their specific [points of distribution sites], because they go in and identify the number of appointments in those that are for booster shots and the number for initial shots. We have to do a lot more work now to manage our inventory," Reed said.
Reed said he has not heard of changes to a plan by HHS to allocate doses to states based on how quickly they’re vaccinating people. That’s supposed to start in two weeks, and Oklahoma’s current COVID vaccination rate would put the state in line for additional doses.
As of Friday morning, the state reported more than 200,000 doses had been given.