Oklahoma Doing Relatively Well With COVID Vaccination, But Herd Immunity A Long Way Off

Jan 25, 2021

Credit Mike Simons / Pool photo

As of Friday, just eight states and the District of Columbia had higher COVID vaccination rates per 100 people than Oklahoma.

That information is according to Bloomberg’s global tracker, which shows Oklahoma is also in the top 10 for the percentage of doses it’s used.

But there’s still a long way to go.

Less than 1% of Oklahomans has completed a two-dose vaccination series, and less than 10% are known to have been infected by the coronavirus. State Epidemiologist Dr. Jared Taylor said it will take somewhere around 60% to 70% of Oklahomans having immunity to achieve herd immunity.

"Herd immunity is basically saying, ‘What proportion of the population do we need to have so that we no longer have a raging pandemic?’ so that it becomes what we would call ‘endemic.’ Or, if we get above a certain threshold, we may actually drive it downward long-term and perhaps move toward eradication or make it extremely rare," Taylor said.

Health officials don’t think the minimum vaccination level to reach herd immunity is enough.

"That still leaves 30-some percent of the population in Oklahoma susceptible to the virus and all of its effects, and given as devastating as this virus is, we’re not going to be satisfied with that. We’re going to have concerns about those individuals, and we’re going to want to aspire to a much higher level of uptake," Taylor said.

President Joe Biden has set a goal of 100 million vaccinations in his first 100 days. His administration has said they’re starting from scratch when it comes to distribution, though Trump White House Coronavirus Task Force member Dr. Anthony Fauci, who is now Biden’s chief medical adviser, has described the distribution plan as needing significant amplifying.